How do I get myself into these situations?
There I was, standing atop a 40-foot telephone pole with a crowd of teenagers below telling me to jump! That leap of faith was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
In my youth ministry days, I often got myself into these predicaments. I felt I had to set the example, especially when I was challenging my teenagers to take action that requires courage:
· Serving on a mission trip team
· Giving a testimony in front of church
· Doing trust falls off a six-foot ladder into the arms of their camp friends
This time, I was a 45-year-old leader amongst a hundred high-schoolers at a team-building event. As my team cheered me on, I put on the awkward-fitting safety harness (worst wedgie ever!) and climbed that pole like a squirrel. But when I reached the top, I had to stand up from knees to feet on a space smaller than a paper plate! I don’t mind telling you, I was prit-tee-scared! It took some time, but I finally stood, still shakin’ in my tennis shoes.
Then came the hardest part.
As I stood on top, above treetops and teenagers, fear flooded over me. Even with a big burly 20-something at the other end of the safety line acting as a human anchor, I was terrified!
The crowd below counted to 3 to urge me on but, instead of jumping, I started pleading with the Big Burly Guy, making him promise he wouldn’t let me fall.
“Are you sure you can hold me? Do you promise? I’m no lightweight, ya know!”
It could have been 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I couldn’t tell you which, before I could trust enough to jump. I launched myself at the trapeze bar hanging 6 feet away, grazed it, and fell…
And then floated slowly to the ground, praising God and Big Burly Guy all the way down.
That is the best analogy I can think of to help us consider how fear can get in the way of taking action and that trust is the only way out of a debilitating fear.
Think of a time when you needed to take some action, but because you were unsure of the outcome or unable to control it, fear came over you and you chose not to act.
· Applying for a new job
· Reaching out to a new friend or love interest
· Asking for help from a family member
· Making a big financial decision
We have all felt a kind of fear or anxiety, maybe even the kind that makes us stand there afraid instead of jumping. You wouldn’t be fully human if you didn’t feel fear sometimes, especially when what may be coming is unknown or out of your control.
But how do you go from standing atop the pole to jumping into the action that is needed?
Trust. And trust that starts with faith.
Merriam-Webster’s defines faith as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”
The Bible puts it like this in Hebrews 11:1:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11 goes on to tell us how the great leaders in the Bible (Abraham, Noah, Moses and many more) had faith to do daring deeds unimaginable to us today. I am sure they felt fear but “By faith,” they still left their homelands, built giant boats, commanded pharaohs, did miracles and led nations.
They still jumped… not because they were without fear
but because their trust in God was BIGGER than their fear.
I want to share with you one of my go-to life verses. It’s a promise that came from God when the Israelites were up against a daunting foe and filled with fear. I run it through my heart
when I find myself standing there afraid, unable to jump into action.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
‘Do not fear; I will help you.’“
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
There is something very tender and personal in those few words, that an Almighty God would take me gently by the hand, calm my fears, and then promise to help me through whatever He is asking me to take on.
I picture myself as a small child, reaching up to take my Daddy’s hand, both strong and gentle at the same time. It’s a hand that has helped me so many times before, a hand offered in love.
When I trust, the fear falls away and I can move forward,
knowing I have help. I am not alone.
I want this for you too, my friends.
I want you to trust that God is always there with you at the top of your 40-foot telephone pole. His hand is out and waiting for you to trust in Him. And no matter how long it takes, when you are ready to jump, you will not jump alone. That is a promise.
So…on your mark, get trust… and jump!