I spent most of this Labor Day weekend sitting by the pool and feeling the spray of splash after splash after splash. My children don’t swim so much as hurl themselves repeatedly into the water. Even the two-year-old, with a grip on his inner tube that looks entirely too casual to me, gets in on the action. Run . . . jump . . . Splash! Repeat.
I tried it once or twice myself, but even that small drop from side of pool to bottom of pool makes my stomach flutter. Once upon a time, I could jump from the 7 meter diving platform for fun after swim practice. Once upon a time, I pretended to like the free-fall rides at the amusement park.
I have nothing left to prove. I would rather avoid stomach flutters. And so I generally ease my body into the pool one concrete step at a time.
But if a bodily free fall is something I now avoid, I find myself pursuing spiritual free falls with much more regularity. They don’t make my stomach flutter – only my heart.
I don’t think you will find the phrase “free fall” in the Bible, but it seems to me the best way to describe the experience of following God into unknown terrain. To hear His voice calling, to move in His direction . . . well, it often feels like falling.
There we are – in midair – and it is not at all clear that we will be caught, that we have in fact heard rightly, that we will not fall all the way to the bottom of an empty post-Labor Day swimming pool.
I could tell you that He never lets us hit bottom. That our free fall of faith is rewarded every time. But I’m not sure if it always looks like that. Or if it always feels like that.
Sometimes we might just find ourselves at the bottom of the pool, picking up the pieces and trying to make sense of it all. Asking, “Was I wrong to jump?”
Occasionally, we are tested like Abraham, and we are privileged to see, without a doubt, that we have aced the test. Abraham knew that he would have sacrificed his son. God knew it too. Abraham passed the test and was rewarded with God’s provision and with a faith that had been refined by fire.
Abraham made the leap. He landed with both feet on the ground and eyes that had witnessed God’s goodness and glory.
Yes, God tests us, we have read, in order to know what is in our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2). But even if we find ourselves heart-bruised at the bottom of the pool, we are given this good thing: we have seen our own souls in flight.
Whether we call it falling or flying, it is good to know what we are made of. It is good to know that even the least thrill-seeking among us are capable of leaping after Him.
“. . . acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you . . .” (I Chronicles 28:9).
I hope my kids keep jumping. It isn’t safe, but I’m convinced that it’s the only way to live.