Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
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Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
Taking the Leap of Faith at Bear River Ranch in Rolla, MO would be no problem…or so I thought. As I met up with a few of my friends from the church for our annual picnic, I took pride in the fact that while they were saying uh uh, no way will I try that, I was thinking, of course I’ll do it. After all, I’ve been skydiving…and I loved it. If I could jump out of a plane, I knew I could walk along a telephone pole, leap out, and smash a hanging volleyball with my palm before being caught by a cable and lowered to the ground.
Apparently, there was more to it than I was prepared for. No matter that I had talked big.
The reality of stepping out onto the shaky, shivery pole scared me to death. I could see family and friends from church down below on the ground staring up at me, yelling encouragement. And still…I could not move. My jittery legs barely held me in an upright position. My brain kept telling my foot to lift and step, but that stubborn foot wouldn’t cooperate. I felt like someone had filled my leg with lead. No matter what I tried, I could not raise it.
Finally, I just stepped back down into the tower. “I can’t do it,” I told the worker.
Reassuring me that I could take a few minutes and try again later, he unhooked me from the cable, and I stepped aside to make room for others waiting. While I tried to convince myself I could do it, that I’d be safe, I watched my friend, Susan, successfully complete her Leap. Mind over matter, I decided. And so I tried again. With no success. No matter what mind tricks I tried, my legs could not be convinced to move forward into that first step. Admitting failure, I stepped back and allowed myself to be rehooked onto the zipline, and I left the tower in a ‘safe’ manner.
Later, I discussed my inability to take the Leap of Faith with a friend.
“Julie,” she asked me.”You have been skydiving. How can you skydive and not be able to walk across that pole?” In her eyes, skydiving seemed much scarier.
I tried to explain. “Skydiving was easier. Because it was tandem, I was strapped to someone who knew exactly what he was doing. Once that plane door opened, there was no question about going. We leaned out together, ducked our heads and free fell. I didn’t have to use my own power. On the Leap of Faith, I had to rely on only myself to move my way across that beam. And my legs just wouldn’t do it.”
Later I thought about what I’d told my friend, and I realized that what kept me from the Leap of Faith is the same thing that keeps me (and maybe you can relate to this, too) from lifting up my foot and moving forward in other areas of my life. When we depend on our own power, fear holds us back. It can paralyze us and keep us from doing the things that would allow us to fully live and experience all that life has to offer. The great thing about all of that is that we don’t have to rely on our own power. We have a tandem partner – Jesus Christ. With Him, our loving Christ, connected to us, with Him within us, we can have the strength and confidence we need to accomplish exactly what we set out to do.
Lord, thank you for always being with me and for the strength and confidence your love gives me. Help me always to move forward in a way that is pleasing to you. Amen.
In what areas do you feel you most need your ‘tandem partner’, Jesus?