Jumping out of a plane is really more like getting thrown out of a plane. When I was 23, my younger sister who had just turned 21, invited me to celebrate with her by jumping out of a plane… at 7500 feet. I had talked a big game for a while before that saying that if she ever wanted to, I would be there. Now it was my time to back up what I had said. We went out to California, where my sister lived, and she made reservations with a skydiving company. We drove out that morning and were welcomed into a small shed. There were people in brightly colored jumpsuits everywhere. It was a sunny day and there were literally people falling out of the sky, grasped in the atmosphere only by their colorful canopies as the floated to earth in a haphazard dance.
Upon our entrance, we were ushered into a small room featuring a few chairs and a small TV that still played VHS tapes. The message of the tape was simple so I will paraphrase it for you, “if you die, don’t blame us, its not our fault. There is no guarantee you will make it out alive” Very reassuring.
Following 20 minutes of our “pregame speech” we walked outside and were given a blue jumpsuit and literally two minutes of instruction.
“When you jump out do this.”
“When you are falling do that.”
“Pull the parachute at such and such a time.”
“Ok, lets go”
With that small introduction we walked over to a plane that, upon first seeing it, I was glad we had parachutes. It is always a great feeling to walk up to a plane in such poor shape that you say to yourself that there is a better than even chance you will need a parachute.
As I ascended skyward with my sister I tried to keep calm, being the big brother I of course could not be seen showing any cowardice. Eventually we reached out destination, not ORD or LAX… simply 7500 feet.
After watching my other passenger compatriots gleeful jump toward the ground, I was strapped very tightly to an instructor whom I did not know nearly as well as the proximity of our bodies suggested. He told me to kneel and cross my arms at the door, preventing me from stopping him as he threw us both out of the plane. And just like that there was no opportunity to stop, no opportunity to go back, no matter what happened from here that wouldn’t change one harsh but unavoidable reality, I was falling.
There is a truth about follow Jesus, it is much like being thrown, or jumping from a plane at 7500. To some people it sounds exciting, to some frightening, to some ludicrous. Some hear the prospect of a life pursuing God and they can imagine nothing worse. Some hear it and long to do so, they just don’t know how to find the plane, and yet others still, frightened and scared, kneel down, cross their hands, and simply fall.
I think we glamorize the wrong parts of the Christian message sometime. We glamorize heaven but we forget to talk about earth. We glamorize eternity but don’t talk about reality. We glamorize Jesus but I highly doubt, with even some of the most devout people I know, that they would love living a three year period walking around the dessert with no home, no clothes, no money, entering into the most desolate parts of society, and eventually being killed for your beliefs.
Here is the truth, there is a constant opposing voice in this universe which is dead set on planting within your spirit: doubt, fear, complacency, apathy, and alike. It is as if we are all watching a video that says, “if you give your life to Jesus it will be boring, it will be stupid, it will be a waist of your time, you will die without purpose, you will be poor.”
“If you give your life to Jesus, your shoot wont open, you won’t make it back to tell the tale… and its no ones fault but your own.”
Hebrews 11:1 says this in the best possible explanation to what this thing called “faith” is, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
In my short life I have been chased by African elephants, traveled around the world, built a church, met loads of people, attended 4 colleges, received 2 degrees, watched young people do amazing things, shaken hands with a president, jumped out of a plane, gotten tattoos, broken some bones, given some speeches, played music live on stage, gotten in a fight with a baboon (there were actually a few of them and they were huge) and am about to have my first child. I have no idea what is next, but I have done this all in the life I have given to pursue Jesus, and I have done none of it with regret. God promises adventure. He doesn’t promise security, he doesn’t promise the American dream, he simply offers “life and life to the full.” (John 10:10).
I can convince no one to live a life following Jesus, I can only offer my life and suggest that the lies we hear are wrong. God is calling us to jump out of a plane at 7500 feet. He is calling us to let go, he is calling us to trust him. He is yelling at us that no matter where that plane lands, the true adventure is going to be for the ones who take the leap. And he also says this… The Parachute will open, trust him, he won’t let you down. Don’t believe the lies, don’t buy into the fear, take the leap, and let him show you how much of an adventure can be.
Honestly, there are a lot of people walking around claiming they love God and Jesus. I don’t judge them for a moment, but you can tell, they are still on the plane. They didn’t take the risk, they aren’t willing to trust yet, and with that they are missing the adventure. God calls us all to leap towards the world with all that we have, offering everything we have and leaving the safety of our comfort behind us. And when we jump, as we see the plane passing behind us, no matter what happens next, he guarantees us that there will be an adventure, there is no way to go back, and the parachute is going to open.