When the clouds finally cleared, after all the liability paperwork was filled out, three hours of waiting and some shared snacks, my husband Roger and I were cleared to jump. While jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet got me a little closer to Heaven, the fact that I was pretty near certain I would die that day brought me even closer to God.
The Liability form said it all. Here is an excerpt:
For eleven months I processed through the fear of what I thought would be every step of the experience. At first I couldn’t comprehend the moment where you jump out of the plane. But as time moved on I got better at visualizing the possibility. Then my fear moved to equipment failure. Not much I could do about that, I thought. I was counting on the company we were jumping with to do their job right. One of the last points of fear for me, on the way to the airport that day, was whether or not the guy strapped to my back would have hooked us up right. I wondered, would we fall out and become separated? Again, nothing I could do about that. I would have to count on him. Well, sort of. Ultimately, I had to count on God’s plan for my life.
I enjoy flying, so take off didn’t bother me a bit. When the door opened at 13,000 feet and tandem pairs of perfectly good people started dropping out one after the other, I think I went into shock. My one and only expletive was uttered in that moment. I could not believe what we had long anticipated was about to happen. Surrendered to my faith in God and my new human savior, Josiah, we sat together in the doorway of the plane. As instructed, I wrapped my lower legs under the body of the plane. “Put your head back.” Josiah said. I did... and as promised he rolled us forward out of the plane.
Nothing could have prepared me for free fall. It was crazy! While Josiah and I fell together through the sky at about 200 miles an hour, for 8,000 feet, I couldn’t process what was happening fast enough. I was determined though to make good on a promise to my friend, Pam, to keep my eyes open. My eyes were open alright and if you look at the photos or watch the video, you can see that they were filled with fear. My mouth, on the other hand, was filled with air. I couldn’t keep my lips from flapping or my teeth from drying out. That made for some lovely images.
Roger's free fall experience photographed a little better than mine. Don't blame the photographer, it was definitely the subject.
To my delight, after free fall, the parachute opened. The shift in speed was abrupt but very welcome. I uttered some unintelligible words of excitement and continued to do everything Josiah told me to do.
The feeling of dangling from a parachute was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. Turning was a rush. Imagine rounding a sharp corner while gravity is pulling you downward. From the moment we left the plane I had no idea where we were in the sky. I had no idea where we were in relation to where we needed to land either. I found out later, at about that same time, our daughter, Madeline, looked up from her safe place on the ground and asked, “Why is mom so far away from the rest of the group?” I was the one steering but I could not have been held responsible for where we were. Josiah knew just when to take control. My only responsibility was to enjoy every remaining moment of the experience and to stretch them for as long as possible.
Landing was sweet, gentle and easy. Josiah said we would land seated if need be. “But if I say stand”, he told me, Just step with me.”
When the time came and Josiah said, “Stand.” I stepped with him. In a flash we were two separate individuals again, safely on the ground. I casually walked away, my arms raised in victory!
Roger and I high fived, hugged and kissed right there in the landing zone. We scooted over to our waiting family members, answered questions and stood for photos. We then returned to the dressing room, surrendered our jump suits, goggles and hats. It felt good to get back down to my faith-filled shirt. I thanked the “packers” as they call them in the skydiving business. They’re the guys who pack the parachutes for every jump. I didn't realize until then we were counting on them too! Everybody did their job well. We go on to live our faith another day!
Skydiving reminded me that life and living are filled with opportunities to exercise our faith. As I saw it that day, my skydiving experience boiled down to three kinds of faith; Faith in self, e.g., confidence, trust, courage and willingness, Faith in others, e.g., Sometimes we have to rely on others, we have to trust their skills and knowledge to keep us safe. Faith in God - i.e., The ultimate safety net, e.g., never ending hope found in the promise of Eternity
Unlike the hand game; Rock Paper, Scissors, where one thing will always have power over another, or where, when two like things meet, it’s a wash, A life lived in faith has a supreme force. Two of the three kinds of faith I have mentioned here can be beat. We all know; humans will, at some point, disappoint. Faith in God will infinitely out perform any amount of faith we have in ourselves or others.
It was most certainly my faith which gave me the courage to jump and the ability to trust. It was my faith that gave me the ultimate safety net. It didn’t matter how it ended. I knew, no matter what, I was going to be okay. Because of my faith, I'm gonna be okay, every moment of every day. I don't think we all have to go skydiving to figure that out. This experience increased the knowledge I have about my faith, the confidence I have in myself and the reality that there are times when we simply have to rely on others. For all of that… I am thankful.
Roger and I paid a little extra to memorialize our jumps with video. Using Apple’s iMovie (thank you Steve Jobs) and some of my own music, I created a joint video. Roger and I hope you enjoy. See below... A Leap of Faith.
Joshua 1:9 (Thanks David... this is a great one.)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.