Today I went skydiving for the first time. It was honestly the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. Falling from 14,000 feet at 120 miles per hour, putting all the hope of your life in a thin sheet of silk suspended above you is one of the most fun things I think a person can do. I learned a lot from my trip, but I think I learned the most from the reactions of my friends when I told them of my plans in the weeks preceding.
Whenever I told someone I was going skydiving, the responses were different. Some were excited, some jealous, some regretful that they weren’t joining, but more often than not the reactions were simply of dumbfounded shock.
“Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”
“That’s really dangerous, I can send you some articles…”
“I could never imagine doing that.”
These were the responses I got most frequently. Skydiving made no sense to most people. Jumping out of an airplane for no other reason than “for the heck of it” is an urge that most rational humans don’t have. And the more I thought about these responses, the more I realized: They’re right!
We don’t get jumping out of an airplane. We get falling out of an airplane. I mean we don’t like the idea of falling out of an airplane in some sort of emergency, but at least it makes sense to us. Something wrong happens with the engine and you have to eject, or there’s a crash. We understand that. But we don’t have any way of understanding the desire to jump out of an airplane. When people would ask why I was doing it, my explanation was pretty simple:
I want to have to trust.
Skydiving was so exciting for me because I had no authority over myself and my safety. As soon as I exited that plane, I was totally vulnerable and had no control over myself. My only option was to trust that I was safe in the hands of God and the systems of basic physics that He’d created to protect me.
I think too often we get ourselves in situations where no trust is required. We don’t go down streets that aren’t safe to go down, having to trust the community. We don’t try food that we aren’t used to, having to trust whoever prepared it. We don’t make choices that aren’t safe to make, having to trust in whatever environment surrounds us. And primarily, we don’t want to have to trust God.
We like to stay in our air planes.
We like to know that we’re not going to fall. If our airplane crashes or we fall out, we will deal with that danger, but we aren’t getting out on purpose. But what if, as a follower of Jesus, we’re supposed to just jump.
We build ourselves planes out of careers and financial security and family ties and good education, and we think that as long as we don’t jump out of them, we’ll be safe. But what we don’t realize is that we are just as much in God’s hands when we’re in the plane as when we’re speeding toward the ground. When everything that we’ve built to protect our safe, comfortable lives falls apart, and we fall out of the airplane, we will be forced to trust God. But unless that happens, we won’t ever trust him. What if we just jumped, trusting God on our own terms and not just waiting to be forced to?
What if we bailed out of a plane that had no issues or malfunctions?
Jesus, in Mark chapter 10, tries to get this across to a rich young man. In verse 21 we’re told: “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’”
Jesus was calling him to jump.
We hate jumping. It goes against everything we understand as humans. We hate surrendering the authority of our own lives to Jesus. But one thing we need to understand: Having our own authority is an illusion. That rich young ruler thought he had a ton of possessions, but what he didn’t realize was that everything he owns ultimately belongs to God in the first place, as part of his creation. We already have to rely on God. We already have to hope that we’re safe in His hands. We’re no safer in the planes we create for ourselves than we are in free fall. So Jesus tells this guy to jump to that he can get rid of the illusion of safety and security that he thinks comes from all his stuff.
Safety doesn’t come from a good portfolio. Comfort doesn’t come from living close to family. It’s all an illusion, it’s a plane that can crash. So if we jump, surrendering everything we are to Jesus, we will see that we really can trust God to care for us and bring us safely to ground, even if we tumble and spin on the way down. So, after today, my promise to myself is that in the normal parts of life, I’ll just jump.