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Heights: Overcoming the Fear

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Heights: Overcoming the Fear

I remember doing an obstacle course during my dad’s boot camp for young guys. (Yes, my dad ran a boot camp.) I had already gone to the camp for the first time a few years prior, and now I was in leadership as a Training Assistant (T.A.). As a leader, I felt that it was my responsibility to show these young trainees how to do this course right. Nobody asked me to model the way. That was all me. During this obstacle course, I found out that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. It was at this time that I also encountered a fear that I never knew I had: I was afraid of heights.

There, in front of me, was a telephone pole about 15 feet high. It had these metal rods sticking out from either side of it so that I could climb. My objective: climb the telephone pole and stand at the top. Easy, right? They attached me to a harness that looked like a pulley so that I wouldn’t fall and die. Guess who had the other end of the harness? Yeah. It was the TRAINEES! These were the same trainees who needed me to model the way for them. Now, my life was in their hands. I decided that I was going to do this without the need for their assistance. So up I went. As these things go, the people on the other end of the harness are supposed to give me lots of slack so that I couldn’t feel the safety of the harness. I felt like it was all up to me. No worries, though. I’m a pretty athletic person. I was doing great until about 10…no, maybe 11 feet up. I felt like the wind started moving the pole. I started thinking, “The trainees aren’t trained well enough on the harness to catch me.” “If they do catch me, I’ll probably swing back around and hit one of these metal rods.” “Wow, that’s a long way to fall.”

To give you some context, I actually love the birdseye view! It’s one of my favorite things about plane rides. Taking in the scenery from that high up can be encouraging and inspiring. So, for me, I’m not really afraid of being way up in the air. I love it! Knowing this about myself, I had to question what I was really afraid of on that telephone pole. The answer was that I was afraid of trusting whatever was responsible for keeping me up in the air. I was afraid that the telephone pole could blow over. I was afraid that the trainees couldn’t keep me safe while I was up in the air. I was afraid of the possibility of a painful fall if I couldn’t stay in the air.

I’m at a place in my life where this is true again. Two years ago, I began a climb called “Between Dreams and Reality”. The tagline was “there is glory…if you can endure the story”. And so my family and I began to climb…higher and higher. We’ve done some amazing things so far. God has carried our music ministry across the U.S. I’ve personally ministered to thousands of people, performed with some of the best artists out there, and recently partnered with Eddie James to bring rap into the conversation of today’s worship culture. Things are starting to get a little scary now. God is asking us to do more. He’s asking us to go higher. the “what if’s” are starting to creep in. And there’s a lingering fear that the grace that got us to this point may not be able to sustain us at the top. “Are we really made for the top? If this is where we are supposed to be, then why does everything seem so shaky? Why do I feel like the people who I need to trust the most may let me down?” We know it’s a lie in our minds, but it feels real.

As I got to the top of the telephone pole, there was one more awkward step for me to take before balancing myself on the top of the pole. This step took the longest for me to take. I was trying to figure out how I could do it without falling completely off of the pole. There was plenty of room at the top for both of my feet to fit, and I promise you that I would have taken that step quicker if I was 14 feet closer to the ground. After some encouragement from the trainees, I decided to take that final step. My legs were visibly shaking and everyone saw it. I took it anyway. I DID IT!

I want to encourage you right now. You may feel trapped between the urgency of climbing and the fear of falling. Don’t make your way down the pole of life. Don’t be afraid of heights. You were born to RISE.


Jarrell is a rap artist, the founder of Freedom Music Group, and the leader of The Scribe Collective which serves as the hip-hop arm of Eddie James Ministries. Jarrell also serves in leadership at Faith Outreach Center International. He and his wife Jeneil are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Nyomi and Liviya.


  • Kwasi Agbottah

    Reply December 15, 2017 6:16 pm

    This is so encouraging. The eloquence makes me forget how real it is, and vice versa. “undistracting excellence,” as shai linne says. Lots of visual images and quotes for the Holy Spirit to bring back to my mind during this crazy holiday season for my students and family. Thanks again.

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