Imagine with me for a moment. You work in a large hangar at an airport. Your job is to equip and train potential skydivers. You and your coworkers spend hours reading books and journals related to the sport. You have been doing it so long that you can practically pack a parachute with your eyes closed. Additionally, you have become very skilled at explaining the sport of skydiving to potential customers. Explaining that even though it appears that they will be jumping to their doom, the parachute can be trusted. You detail the importance of free falling until an altitude is reached that has sufficient oxygen to sustain human life and then simply pull the cord, deploying the parachute, and enjoy the view as you float peacefully to earth.
The potential customers appear to be sold on the concept; however, they ask you about the free fall portion of the dive. They say, “It sounds like the free fall is pretty scary. I am not sure that I could wait for the safest time to pull the cord. Don’t you get scared during that part?” At this point you are forced to admit that you have never actually jumped from a plane. You hurriedly try to reassure the customer by explaining what you have read about skydiving and the tests you have been part of in the hangar’s testing lab; however, the person decides against skydiving. A few may love the thought of skydiving so much that they decide to join the crew to pack parachutes and read about the sport; however, they will never willingly jump from a plane.
This story illustrates how I feel about my Christian life. I have dedicated much of my adult life to packing “God parachutes” for other people to use and reading God books and journals, so that I can reassure potential God followers that he can be trusted. The problem is that I have never truly, willingly jumped out in faith and proven (to myself) that God can be trusted.
I have pushed the hangars testing chambers to the limit; however, I have always had a safety line of some kind. My “risks” were laughable compared to a real jump of faith. I always had a “reserve chute” just in case God did not come through. I can honestly say that I had never been in a position that ALL would be lost if God did not come through.
As a result, I was not able to persuade potential God followers to make their own leap of faith. I did find people who were willing to work in the hangar, pack parachutes, read books about God and push the test chambers to the limit, but we were afraid to go out of the hangar and jump. I had faith that God would be there for the potential God follower, but not for me.
There comes a time when faith needs to be acted on. According to Hebrews 11, faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen and it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. This means that you leap out of your safe airplane and trust that God will bring you safely to the ground, even though you can’t see how. The jump also involves a time of free falling. Free falling may, initially, be the scariest part. The chute has not opened yet (for your own safety) and you start to play the “what if” game. What if the chute does not open? What if it was not the right time for me to jump?
There are many examples of faith”free falling” in the Bible.
Abraham- Promised a child, could not see how it could happen.
Israelites- Freed from Egypt only to find themselves backed up against the Red Sea.
Joseph- Had a dream that his family would bow down to him,”free fell” into prison?
David- Anointed king and “free fell” into a desert cave, where he lived in fear for his life.
These are just a few of the many examples of what a true leap of faith looks like. It appears that it looks like you have jumped to your doom and God has forsaken you! David said this while he was in the “free fall” portion of his leap of faith:
Psalm 109: 22-25
22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is full of pain.
23 I am fading like a shadow at dusk;
I am brushed off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
and I am skin and bones.
25 I am a joke to people everywhere
According to what I read, every person who saw great things from God says something similar to David’s statement during the “free fall” period. There are also more modern examples of people, who have made a great impact, feeling this way. Take this example from Oswald Chambers:
“No enthusiasm will ever stand the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His worker, only one thing will, and that is a personal relationship to Himself which has gone through the mill of His spring-cleaning until there is only one purpose left–I am here for God to send me where He will.”
― Oswald Chambers
How could he write this if he had not personally felt the strain that he talks about? Apparently, he also had a “free fall” experience that resulted in his life having an impact nearly 100 years after his death. He did not accept the good (working in the hangar) at the expense of the great (jumping from the plane).
My family and I are currently in the “free fall” phase of our faith jump. While it does not feel good on a physical level, we feel very much at peace in our spirits. We were discussing the concepts above with the children and Max spoke up, with his 10 year old wisdom, and proclaimed “what if” to be a swear word in our home. We are not going to entertain the “what if God does not” scenarios. We refuse to give up or pull the cord early on this leap of faith. We will not settle for the good, we are going for the great! A classic tale of adventure with God.
“The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould”
― Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Traditional Updated Edition