My daughter, the adventurist, had a fantasy to go skydiving. I shared her interest. I had watched people on television skydive, watched videos of friends who skydived. I even got on the internet and read a lot about skydiving. It looked exhilarating and fun. However, I did have a little apprehension about it. It didn’t seem right to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and plunge 120+ mph towards the ground, putting one’s complete trust in thin cords attached to a cloth that looked like a bed sheet. Part of me was, “Yes, that would be cool”, the other part of me said, “Nope — skydiving is for crazy people”.
However, when my daughter turned 18, my wife and I decided to give her a birthday present and take her skydiving. We would share in her experience by going along with her.
When the day came to make the big jump, I can remember my excitement and somewhat apprehensive self suiting up, wondering if it was “really” something that I “really” wanted to do. But we had already paid the money for the jump and sat through the pre-jump training. I couldn’t back out at that point. I had to be all in.
As we stood waiting for the plane to arrive to pick us up, I struck up a conversation with one of the instructors. He reminded me that he would be strapped to me. He reminded me that the cords and buckles were actually strong enough to hold up the entire weight of the plane. He said that he would open the chute if I failed to pull the cord at the right time. He even said that there was a safety device that would open the chute in case of an emergency.
He then mentioned that he was on his ten thousandth jump. That is 10,000. Meaning — he had already had 9,999 good jumps with no problem. At that point, I became more excited than apprehensive. But still I was anticipating what was really about to happen.
We boarded the plane and took the twenty-minute ascent to the right altitude. Just before we got to the proper height, the instructor did the final checks on our gear to make sure everything was secure. A green light mounted on the ceiling came on and the doors opened. Before I had time to have any other second thoughts, we were rushed to the edge, and out the door we went — into a free fall.
The experience was amazing. All I could hear was the sound of the air rushing past me. All I could think about was not forgetting to pull the cord for the chute to open. The earth that was so far away was getting closer, but the view and the adrenaline rush I had was awesome.
It was so much more than pictures in a magazine. It was so much more exciting than watching videos of friends taking the plunge. All the previous knowledge of skydiving had exploded into a new reality — an actual, personal, heart-pounding experience. Now I really began to get a sense of what it was like to skydive. What I read about was taking place.
However, the free fall wasn’t the best part to me. The best part was after the chute opened. That’s when all seemed to go silent. We were thousands of feet in the air and it seemed like we were just hovering. It seemed so calm and peaceful. That’s when I really took it all in. I felt as though time stood still.
After we landed safely on the ground, the first thing I said to my wife and daughter was, “We have to do that again.”
As I was studying through the book of James, I realized that living out my faith is similar to that experience. Sometimes God asks me to follow him into areas I am apprehensive about, to places I have never been before, and, yes, to places that can seem dangerous. I realize that I have to trust the instructor. It is in those times when I simply have to do what the Lord asks me to do, and I realize how great the thrill really is, not just in knowing who God is, but actually doing what he says. That’s when faith becomes a reality.
There was anticipated excitement in reading about skydiving, but the blessing came in the experience, the doing it.
I have discovered that there is an excitement, and even a nervous anticipation, when I read God’s word and what he calls us to do. But the greatest blessing is in the doing — living by faith, trusting the instructor.
James 1:25But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.