1... 2... 3... Jump!
I have always been one who isn’t afraid of very much. Except when it comes to jumping off of things from high altitudes. I was recently in Haiti on a mission trip, and we went to this place called Basin Blu. It was a huge cliff with a swimming hole underneath, and there were three different levels that you could jump off from. I watched a few of my team members jump, and decided that I was going all the way to the top. As I was climbing up higher and higher, my stomach starts turning, and I was regretting as to why I let myself come all the way to the top. If you had asked me back then why I was terrified, I’m not sure I could have articulated my fear. I may have answered something like, “I just don’t want to do it.” But looking back, I know exactly what I was afraid of: hitting a rock at the bottom and drowning. When my turn to jump finally came, I walked carefully toward the edge and stood there, scared to death. My fear was immobilizing. I couldn’t jump. A few of my friends were close by, treading in the water below. They shouted, “Don’t be afraid! You can do it! You’re going to be okay.”
Now, what was the point in telling me that? The point was that they had validated the fact that I could safely jump and that people were nearby with the power to help me if I got into trouble. My fear was unfounded. However, my fear was still distorting my perception of reality and governing my behavior. I was not in real danger, but I still believed that this jump might be my last. My friends knew that the only way to cure my fear and rid me of my unbelief in their promises was to get me to jump. By just merely knowing their promises wasn’t the same as believing them. Believing them required me to rely on them. Only in jumping would I put the promises to the test and know that they were indeed, true. They knew that if I jumped, my fear would lose its power over me. I don’t know how long I stood there debating; it felt like an hour. It was a crisis of faith. Would I believe my fears or would I believe my team members’ promises? What I chose to believe would make all the difference in my behavior and in my future.
Sadly, the story does not end like you think it would. I let fear overpower my mind. My mind kept churning, “What if I slip and fall? What if I don’t jump out far enough and I hit my head on a rock? What if I go down too far in the water and I can’t make it back to the surface? I could drown, right here in Haiti. What if this? What if that?” FEAR crippled my mind, and robbed me of an astounding experience.
Instead of faith replacing fear, confident action replacing paralysis; I let fear sink into my mind and take my thoughts captive. I scaled back down the rocks to what I had known. I had already climbed up the rocks, so I was confident that nothing would happen to me while going back down. I was familiar with the rocks, I was comfortable. I wanted back to familiarity instead of uncertainty. Do I regret not jumping? 100%. When I stood at the edge terrified, I was coddled in my fear. There was no way I was jumping. I went back down the rocks in utter disappointment.
In what deep end are you afraid of drowning? Are you standing petrified on the end of some edge in a faith crisis while your heavenly Father is exhorting you to jump? Is he making precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:4) to you that if you jump, you will discover new dimensions of joy?
You will not know the truth or the power of God’s promises unless you jump. You can stay in the shallows where it’s secure, where you can touch bottom. The shallow waters that you are a familiar with, you know your surroundings, you are comfortable. But our sweet Jesus did not save you to live a comfortable lifestyle. Move from normalcy to extraordinary. What God has taught you and is currently teaching you is meant for the deeps, the unknown. But you will only know the joy of the deeps if you take the jump. God can make a way to the top, He will take you as far as to the very edge, but YOU have to be willing to jump. To cast out the fear that Satan has placed in your mind, and rely on Jesus to grab you by the hand and jump with you.
Something that Jesus is teaching me is that we do not fear the unknown, we fear what we think we know about the unknown. We think the unknown is some scary place that leads to nothing but let down after let down. “Jesus, what if I slip and fall on this leap of faith? What if I drown? What if I fail?” I have learned that we can’t fear failure. I fear being in the exact same place next year, as I am today. The fear you don’t face, will become your limits. Instead of being in fear, be brave. A merciful Savior doesn’t coddle our fears, He calls us to be brave. Any fear that makes you distrust his promises is distorting your perception of reality, governing your behavior, and robbing you of joy. God’s exhortation to do what you are afraid of may feel unkind and familiar now, but later you will know it as a mercy.
“Bravery is the ability to look fear in the face and say move aside, you are in my way.” - Mother Teresa
So go ahead: Jump!
Don’t be afraid, John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
You can do it, Matthew 4:19 says, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to make you fishers of men.”
You’re going to be okay, Romans 8:37 says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
You are not alone, Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
He won’t let you drown, Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
It doesn’t have to be a heroic jump. But it may well be a life-changing jump.
I leave you with a quote from someone who has influenced my life greatly, Shira Thompson. “If you think about throwing up before doing it, you should probably do it.”
Much love, my friend.