Along for a ride that terrifies me

skydive

A few months back, Noland said something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We were talking about learning how to truly abide in Jesus, and Noland said, “I think our life is kind of like sky-diving. You know, you sit there and they tell you everything that’s going to happen. They show you where everything is and how it all works, and you’re racking your brain to remember all this important information, but at the end of the day you just strap yourself to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, and jump.”

These are the words I’d been looking for to describe this season of my life. I think all last semester, I was kind of in that “right before you jump” season. I felt like God was giving me a lot of vision for where we were headed and what the coming months and years would be for. But nothing was really moving forward yet.

He told us where we would be church planting. He began to speak promises into that place. He brought a new job out of nowhere that looked hopeful to turn into something worth quitting my other part-time job for. He began to open other doors with my writing and some of the dreams on my heart. He just kind of started telling me all these secrets about what was going to be happening a little later down the road. He told me a little bit of what I would need to know, but really, He just told me to hold on to Him real tight. 

Then the first of the year happened. All of a sudden I was in a rickety, rattling plane at 15,000 feet, being nudged forward by the one I was connected to, and it was time to jump. (And now I was really thankful that I’d been holding on to Him tight.)

And you know, sometimes God is gentle with pushing us off that ledge, but I kind of feel like He just jumped right out for me this time, and brought me along for the ride. It was like, January 1, Happy New Year, ready — set — FREE FALL!

So here we are, somewhere between jumping out of the sky and landing back on solid ground. I have none of the control. And these last few weeks I feel like I’ve just been praying over and over, “God, I know this season is going to be refining. I know you’re asking me to take some risks and embrace some challenges. And if I can just stay in Your Presence, I know I’m going to be OK.”

And even though every day I’m fully aware of the scary reality that I’m falling from the sky with no indication of when this all slows down, I’m also fully aware of His Presence that is right here, the whole time. The reason I’m here in the first place is because this is where He is. Let’s be honest — I never would have jumped without Him.

I get anxious about my schedule, and somehow He multiplies the time. I get anxious about our finances, and money literally appears in our mailbox. (Thank you, kind stranger, if you’re reading this.) I get afraid of the future, and He gently reminds me that I need only to concern myself with this present moment, with Him.

I suppose this craziness can’t last forever, and eventually He will eject the parachute and we’ll slow down. Just in time for Him to show me an aerial view of where we’ll land. And as I visualize this part, it hits me: I know how to do that stuff down there. My feet are used to walking on that ground. What I didn’t know how to do was risk in jumping out of that plane on my own. 

He’s doing the part that I can’t, and He’s taking me along for the ride. Because that’s what He does. He invites us in.

And suddenly I am His partner in doing the impossible. So it’s worth the risk. Worth the uncertainty. Worth the totally out of my comfort zone, want to cry every day, what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here roller coaster. 

I think I’ll stop with all the anxiety and just start enjoying the ride.

The Author of time and space is on a mission, and He’s asking me to join Him. It’s kind of worth dropping everything else I’m holding on to.

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Flat-lining

I was at home this weekend, and my mom told me a story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Brace yourself, it’s a bit heart-wrenching. 

My great aunt had been in the ER, and my mom’s cousin was with her. She told my mom it was a kind of hectic day at the hospital, and started telling her about a baby that was in the ER. She said that they would hear cries, and then it would go quiet, and then they would hear cries, and it would go quiet again. All she could tell was that they were obviously trying to revive this baby. My mom happens to have a friend who works in the ER, so a few days later she asked what had happened.

The baby had aspirated and wasn’t breathing. It had been in its dad’s care, so the mom was not even at the hospital yet. They were trying and trying to keep the baby breathing, but were starting to lose hope of it making it. What happened next is so interesting. Right when they thought they were losing the baby, its mom came running into the hospital, screaming, “Where is my baby! Where is my baby!”

And at the sound of its mother’s voice, the first cries of the baby since it had arrived at the hospital came out. As soon as mom was there, the doctors were hopeful that her baby would make it. Something in her voice gave her baby the strength to fight back.

I wish there was a happy ending, but what actually happened is that the baby was life flighted to Texas Children’s, and as soon as it was on the helicopter and away from mom’s voice, they lost it.

Wow. The literal power of life in the voice of a parent.

And this is kind of how we are with God, I think. When there’s a lack of hearing his voice in our life, we flat-line. Life happens and we get separated and we start to drown in our own junk. Last week I had some flat-lining moments. I was out of my routine, on spring break and life was hectic because I was working full-time. It was lonely because most of my friends were gone. I was, if I’m being honest, a little bit frustrated and even bitter that I didn’t get the break I felt entitled to. So I slacked on pressing in to God, and I stopped posturing my heart and my ears to hear Him clearly.

When we stop listening for His voice, we flat-line. And just like that baby, finally we reach such a place of desperation that it takes his screaming of, “where is my baby?” to draw us back to life with Him again. Reminds me of the first question God ever asks man. “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) 

We were never made to be apart from communion with Him. We were never meant to be away from such an intimacy that we hear His voice constantly. We were always meant to abide in Him. But a long time ago, the enemy started making man believe that God wasn’t a man of his word, so we stopped listening and started hiding when things got hard.

And every day, I have to make a decision to abide instead of hide. Because away from Him, I lose the sound of His voice, and I’m setting myself up to partner with the enemy. To partner with death. I’m setting myself up to flat-line when I cut myself off from hearing His voice.