God and the skydiving preacher falling together (Part 2)

Published 11:45 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

by Nathan Decker

“If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.” – Toni Morrison

It was the last item on my bucket list. I went skydiving. Well, tandem skydiving — which meant I was attached to a guy who was attached to the parachute. Thank God! I had a blast, but more importantly I had an experience that I have continued to reflect on through the lens of faith. God was with this crazy skydiving preacher.

The second lesson I learned from my experience of falling affected all my relationships, especially the one with Alberto, the guy I was attached to on my jump. I’ve preached on it, gave vows based upon it, and even had youth do games to encourage it, but nothing prepared me for the amount of TRUST I had to place in someone else when I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

Trust is the basis of all our relationships. We trust our partners. We trust our friends. We trust people in authority, although this is getting eroded more and more these days. Lack of trust causes us to pause, think twice and even freeze. We trust our government so much (or so little) we put “in God we trust” on our money. I had to trust my instructor with my life, literally. And I did.

The plane took off, and we were heading to 13,000 feet or about 2 ½ miles up. As we got to 6,500 feet, Alberto started connecting harnesses to mine. He went over the instructions one more time. When the hatch on the plane opened, I scooted out to the door. As instructed, I sat down on the edge and hung my legs back against the bottom of the plane. I let go of the cable — the only part of me that was by my own control keeping me in the plane. I hooked my thumbs in the straps, leaned back onto my instructor, and placed my trust in him.

We Christians talk a lot about trusting God. Putting those words into action takes a lot more gall. Henry Blackaby wrote, “Will God ever call you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes!” Why? Because when our Lord calls us to do something we don’t know how to do on our own, we are sitting on the edge, legs hung back against the bottom of a plane — we are letting go. As disciples, we are called to trust God with everything that we have and are. From our paycheck to our 401k, from the birth of our children to the death of our parents, from the choice to buy coffee to the decision to purchase a home: God asks us to trust the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and to lean not on our own understanding.

I leaned back (as instructed) and Alberto leaned forward and we were free falling. It was the greatest feeling of freedom I’ve ever had in my life. After almost 60 seconds he deployed our parachute. The sudden slow down from 125 mph to a graceful float was amazing. Then my mind rushed to a grounding question: “So, we didn’t talk about landing. Can we talk about that now?” He laughed, and then began loosening (that’s right!) the straps around my legs so I would be able to lift my legs up and plop down on my derriere.

In my excitement about skydiving, I had forgotten to even ask how to land. Taking a leap of faith is just that — jumping, not knowing what will be on the other side, but trusting God has a plan and prepared a place for you to land. Trust in God with all your heart and soul and mind, after all, it’s what Jesus would do.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.