Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jumping Off Faith

Jumping off - scary stuff! This morning on ABC's Good Morning America one of the features was a very scary jump/plunge off the Taj Mahal Trump Casino at Atlantic City, NJ. First there was a very attractive girl in full harness who stepped off the edge - maybe a tad gingerly - and hung by the harness and cable. The main feature was Chris Cuomo, male anchor of the Good Morning Show. He was also in full harness attached to cables.

The announcer said the two were going to drop more than 30 feet per second from the top. Chris appeared absolutely terrified as he slid very tentatively to the edge and finally came off into the air suspended by cables attached to his harness. Quickly the drop started!

I've been there and done something like that. Some years ago we had a huge oak tree in our back yard. Our sons rigged up a cable swing high in the tree. The deal was that you climbed up the trunk of the tree on small wooden "steps" nailed in place to reach the first branches pretty high up. Then attached to a cable and in full harness the object was to hold one cable and walk out one of the limbs to its outer edge. The challenge was to step off supported only by the cable attached to the harness. That necessitated letting go of the other cable. Sounds like no big deal, maybe, but I assure you it was one of the scariest things I've ever done!

No big deal - that's what I thought, too. Our church youth group were watching. There was a great deal of pride connected with my challenge, and I learned that truly "pride goes before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)

Our sons both demonstrated the "swing." Then most of the guys participated even one who was "scared spitless." He survived the swing, but I don't think his parents ever forgave our sons for letting him do something so scary. The girls were all sitting on the ground a very safe distance away but close enough to see. None of them planned to participate.

I decided to issue a challenge. If I would go up and swing, would they? They all said, "Yes."

So I proceeded to climb the tree. I was all rigged in a harness attached to a very secure cable. I held the other cable and started to literally inch out the limb. I have participated in some pretty scary adventures in my lifetime, but this one ranks right up there at the top. I was telling myself the entire time: "This has got to be the stupidest thing you have ever done, self!" I knew I couldn't bale in front of the youth group. I was one of their leaders. I was trapped and also "scared spitless."

I could totally identify with Chris on ABC this morning. Been there, done that - not as high or as fast but high enough and fast enough!

Like Chris on the edge of the Taj Mahal roof today, I finally got out to the end of the limb. It was time to step off into mid-air, and I truly didn't know if I could do it. It was a sheer act of will and great faith in the harness, cable and my sons and great hope that God was watching. I dug deep for courage and finally stepped off and swung. It was fun! The swing was great! It was the process of getting there that was sheer torture! Believe it or not, I even did it again! It wasn't much less scary the next time either but the swing was almost worth the fear.

The object of the tree swing was an exercise in faith. My son Duncan pointed that out at the beginning. He talked about the harness and the cables. He said we place faith in the harness and cable being strong and secure. That's how we can step off into mid-air.

Well, in my case, I don't know how much faith I had in the harness or cables or my sons or even God - to tell the truth. In all honesty, I stepped off to save my reputation - to save face!

But I did learn a great faith lesson that day! It is absolutely true: "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) AND sometimes that's only a teeny tiny bit of "beinig sure" and "certain." BUT the great thing is that faith is also not something we muster up. Faith is a gift God gives us just when we need it most! (Eph. 2:8) WOW!

1 comment:

Paul said...

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Compare St. Paul: "Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully."

It seems to me that I'd go with St. Paul on this, since the very definition of faith involves some degree of doubt. Otherwise it would be called knowledge, not faith.

For example, I don't say that if I drop my coffee mug, I have faith that it will get all over the floor. I know it will. But I might say that I have faith in my sister's ability to keep a secret. I don't absolutely know she will, but I do really think so.