It Begins with the Leap
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I watch him for a while as he swings across the pool from one dangling ring to the next. He makes it look so easy, so effortless, soaring over the water like a gymnast. “I’m going to try that,” I announce to my husband, heaving myself out of the water. “I’m going to try those ring things.”
“Really? I think it’s a lot harder than it looks,” Brad says.
“Yeah, well, I’m going to try it anyway,” I say, striding toward the line.
No matter that I have arms like silly string. No matter that I can muster a total of six man-style push-ups. I will master the rings. I will soar from ring to ring across the pool like Jane of the Jungle.
I get in line, shivering behind six beefy-armed men. The fact that there are no other women in the line gives me slight pause. The one man I’d watched earlier continues to glide over the water each time his turn comes, grabbing and releasing the rings in a graceful rhythm. I keep my eye on him, studying his technique, watching his timing.
When it’s finally my turn, I wipe my hands on my bare legs and grab the ring with my right hand. And then I take a giant step back and leap off the edge of the concrete.
I don’t even make it to the second ring. Instead, I swing forward, paw at the air with my left hand, miss the second ring entirely and then swing back again. I neglect to let go of the ring in time. My body hits the concrete wall, and I slide like a dead fish into the cold water.
I come up sputtering, a crowd of onlookers peering over the side of the pool, calling down, “Are you okay?” One guy simply says, “Whoa.”
Noah still talks about “the time Mommy hit the pool wall and fell into the water with everyone watching.” I shudder when I think what I must have looked like, flailing gawkily in my tankini, my body smacking the wall like a side of beef on a hook.
Still, I don’t regret trying the Tarzan rings. Despite my damaged ego, I’m glad I gave it my best shot.
I’ve leaped a lot in my life, especially in recent years. I leaped into moving to Nebraska (okay, maybe we call that one “was dragged against her will”). I leaped into faith. I leaped into writing. Most recently I’ve leaped into public speaking. At some point in the midst of all these leaps, I’ve smacked into a wall—a wall of disappointments, doubts, failures, frustrations and fear.
Leaping is scary. Yet I also believe that despite the risks and the fear, it’s necessary. Because if you don’t ever leap, you won’t ever know what could have been. And what could have been might have made all the difference.
For me, leaping has made the difference between unbelief and faith. It’s made the difference between living passively and living passionately. It’s made the difference between existing comfortably in the box and thriving in the wild open.
It’s true, sometimes when you leap you fall; sometimes you smack hard into a wall and get the wind knocked clean out of you. But sometimes you soar. You may not realize it in the moment, but in leaping you are soaring into the start of something new, something beautiful and life-changing and good.
It all begins with the leap.—Michelle DeRusha1
When My footprint appears ahead of you or beside you, and you feel the little breath of the Spirit nudging you toward it, take that step. It may seem a mundane or ordinary step, or it may require a leap of faith to reach it, but whether it’s a step or a leap, follow Me! That’s the first step toward doing new things! Who knows where that footprint will lead and what you will find at the end of the path. Just continue to put one foot of obedience in front of the other, doing what I ask you to do and going where I ask you to go, and you’ll reach the destination I have for you. I’ll see you there as you follow and obey!—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
African impalas (African antelopes) are amazing creatures that can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet impalas can be kept in a zoo inside an enclosure with a simple three-foot wall. Why? Impalas will not jump if they can't see where their feet will land. Do we have something in common with these antelopes? Able to take great leaps of faith, but refusing to do it unless we can see where we'll land?
George Mueller said of faith, “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.”
In biblical terms: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”2
True faith cannot see how the landing will occur … it simply leaps under the conviction that it WILL occur. Remember, biblical faith begins where our power ends!—George Whitten3
The little boy must have been about four years old. I watched with interest as his dad walked to the end of the diving board at the deep end of the pool and began to teach him how to dive. The boy cheered wildly at the splash his dad made as he entered the water, but when his dad encouraged him to jump in, he backed away apprehensively. “Don’t worry, son,” his dad assured him. “I’ll catch you.”
After some prodding, the boy ventured to the end of the diving board and teetered there, signaling wildly to his dad in the water below to come a little closer. “No, Dad, a little more this way! … No, that way!” I heard him call out. This went on for a while until I thought for sure he was going to take the plunge. But at the last minute he chickened out, turned around, and walked back to the poolside.
His dad, patient but persistent, as dads can sometimes be, urged him not to give up and finally coaxed him back to the end of the diving board. The whole procedure was repeated several times until the boy finally jumped into the waiting arms of his father. He was so proud of himself! The look on his dad’s face said it all, but he couldn’t have held back the praise if he’d wanted to. “You did it, son! I’m so proud of you!”
I smiled and thought how much like that little boy I can be at times. For several months I’ve been in the process of pulling up stakes and preparing to move to another country where new work, new experiences, and new friends are waiting for me. Even though I’ve received encouragement from all quarters that this change is going to be good for me, I’m still tempted to worry at times about how it’s all going to turn out.
God says, “Don’t worry! Just take the plunge! I’m right here in front of you, and I am going to catch you! I won’t let you down!”
But I argue, “Okay, I’ll jump, but please, could You just come a little bit closer? Could You come a little this way or a little that way, so I can feel more secure?”
God, who is infinitely more patient than any earthly father could ever be, continues to assure me that I can trust Him. And He’s right about that, of course. He’s always been there to catch me, and no one rejoices at my little victories like He does. So once again I will take the plunge.—Lilia Potters
Have faith in God, my heart,
Trust and be unafraid;
God will fulfill in every part
Each promise He has made.
There’s that almost frightening moment when you stand teetering on your toes on the tip of the diving board 25 feet above the water below and wonder if you’re going to hit it just right, how it’s going to receive you, and if you’ll survive the dive. Then you slowly lean forward and gravity takes over, and you hit the water with a splash! There’s that moment of thrilling suspense as you fly through the air with the greatest of ease, not knowing exactly what awaits you when you land. But then to your relief, having made that final decision and taken the plunge, you’re suddenly in the water gliding deep below the surface and curving beautifully upward, bursting out again into the air and sunshine with a sense of great achievement and satisfaction, finding it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be! You made it! It took faith, skill, courage, and daring—but you’ve had the satisfaction of a new accomplishment, a new thrill. You made it, and came through safe and sound, whole and hardy and unscathed, to live and try again!
But that moment on the brink, and that second you’re hurtling through the air with your hands outstretched before your head, as though to defend yourself from the water rushing up to meet you, can be breathtaking and make your heart skip a beat, just before the splashdown! It’s a sense of tremendous freedom, but of terrifying danger, a feeling of complete liberty from the bonds of the earthbound, but an almost frightening awareness that it’s soon to end with a terrific impact, which you may or may not survive in one piece!
It takes real faith, real courage, genuine skill, and a final total abandonment to that space between the board and the water! You don’t know how you’re going to land, but you pray it’ll be right, and the crowd will cheer! It’s an unforgettable thrill—and only those who’ve done it know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing else like it—that kind of daring, that kind of recklessness and ignoring of the possible consequences, that total abandonment to the cause, regardless of the outcome, because you know it’s right and the greatest thrill in the world! We have launched out into the deep and are trusting God to see us through, because we know we’re doing His will!—David Brandt Berg4
Published on Anchor January 2014. Read by Tina Miles. Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Hebrews 11:1.
4 Originally published April 1971.