The very best thing I did in 2019.
Had I done this in any other year it would not hold the meaning that it does. It would just be a really fun and memorable experience with my brother.
I jumped out of a plane in June. Two months prior, I did a different kind of jump. Brent and I were on the brink of change. We felt it but we didn’t know what it looked like. We had an idea, one that came as a result of prayer and seeking wisdom from others. We had a goal in mind, but it required a decision on my part. Before we could commit to that decision, we had a checklist of a few areas we needed to see God move. We approached Him with bold humility and consistency, specifically requesting Him to handle these few items first. It didn’t matter if these items had a yes or a no. We just wanted answers before moving forward. I thought answers from God would produce the faith I needed. A few others knew about these things we were waiting on and they prayed with us as we navigated what was to come.
But, we weren’t getting answers. We didn’t have a yes. We didn’t have a no. We had silence.
A good friend who was praying with me and knew all the ins and outs of our lives at the time said it–
“Maybe it’s time to jump. Even if you jump in fear.”
So I did. The very next day, I did the thing I was afraid to do without all the answers. I didn’t need answers. I just needed to obey the thing God had long been commanding me to do.
What followed was disappointment at first, then confusion, then pure anger and frustration. Things went completely opposite of our expectations. Our ideas of how our lives looked after this decision were off. Big time. We thought we were headed in one direction, and these discouraging circumstances were quickly turning us from that direction.
Before jumping out of a plane, I was tempted to do some research. Watch some YouTube videos. Read some reviews. But I knew if I had all of that information, I would never get out of the plane. I would build up fear that glued my feet to the ground. I would know just enough information to convince me that skydiving is risky and unnecessary.
Likewise, had I known all the answers to the questions I was asking God, I would know just enough information to keep me from jumping. It would have seemed risky and unnecessary. I would have glued my feet down and remained steadfast to what was comfortable and predictable, and actually quite good. But not best. And not what He was asking of us. Jumping without answers meant obeying in faith.
The days leading up to skydiving I just hoped to tolerate the jump and be able to breathe. I did not want pee in my pants (or poop–you know a good shart of nervous gas is possible at 15,000 feet). At the very least, dear God, please just make sure the chute comes out.
It was time to jump, even if I jumped in fear. As I stood on the edge of that plane, a moment I fully expected to bow out, I was utterly surprised with complete peace. There was no ounce of fear to be found in me. Looking out at the horizon of God’s creation at sunset was breathtaking. Every moment of the experience was far more than I imagined it could be. I was merely hoping to survive without embarrassment. Instead, I received a highlight of my life that can’t be forgotten.
I want to go again, yes, and I will; but I would rather relive this first jump because of what it symbolizes for me. A free fall surrender into grace with no answers, fully entrusting my care and releasing all control to someone else, only to discover some truly wonderful and praise-worthy things to come. Things that are so, so good I’d never think to ask for them.
After the anger and frustration subsided, we began to understand the ways God was moving. He was physically moving us to another city and 4,592 things had to fall into place quickly for it to all work out. I remember my dad encouraging me at the onset of our overwhelming circumstances that I’m not responsible for making sure all the dominoes fall just right. My responsibility is to watch them fall and go with it. Because God does abundantly more than we ask or imagine, all the things fell into place in ways far better than we expected.
The checklist of things we asked him to do before I jumped? Zero percent of those things happened. Our lives now are not even remotely close to what we were asking God to do. We were asking the wrong questions with expectations much too low. Maybe that’s why God was not answering. He’s not silent because He delights in causing confusion. He’s not silent because He doesn’t care. Maybe, just maybe, His silence is His protection, provision, and guidance for what’s ahead. He would rather be silent in order to make me trust Him and discover His immeasurable goodness, than to answer no because I was asking the wrong questions. And I can say now it’s easier to move forward trusting Him with the unknown, than it is to move forward with all the answers you don’t want to hear because you were requesting things that weren’t going to happen.
Maybe sometimes there should be less question-asking and more free-fall jumping.
2019 you were a weird one. Full of a whirlwind of unexpected events. Events that made me kick and scream and weep, resisting God and His ways. I didn’t want this. I didn’t ask for this. But I also didn’t ask to jump out of a plane because I didn’t know I wanted to. It was a gift that I couldn’t turn down. We can’t ask for things we don’t know we want. This jump into grace, this free-fall trust in God, this surrender to His better ways, is an irresistible gift that I could not turn down. God continues to be immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.
Ben, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for giving me this gift for my birthday and in this particular year. You didn’t really know what it would mean for me. Neither did I. But this was truly a wonderful gift and I’m deeply grateful.