I really don’t know why I decided to do a tandem skydive except that when the thought first came to my mind, it sounded like fun. Last year after my first-ever mission trip (to Haiti) and then my first ever 320 mile bicycle ride from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, the thought of a tandem skydive came to mind. After I thought about it, I thought, “Why not?”
I lost Martha to cancer over 12 years ago. Our kids are all grown, married, moved away and have their own families. My obligations that are left in this life are in this order: God, my health, my family and my congregation (family and congregation tied in third place only because of my current stage in life), and taking the Word of God to people. So why not jump? Jumping out of an airplane sounded like a good idea – as long as I could use it for ministry in some way. Last Christmas when I told my kids of the idea, they gave me their blessing and after they made certain their inheritance was secured, they gave me Christmas money to use for the jump. (My 92-year-old mother still does not know of my insanity.)
What about the landing?
Amazingly, on the day of the jump, I was not nervous and not really anxious. I actually looked forward to the jump. So after the preliminary instructions, my instructor, Joe, said we were ready to go. He instructed me about everything but the landing so I asked about it. He told me that he would give me those instructions on the way down, after the chute opens. With the wisdom of a man who has made almost 12,000 jumps, he said that if the chute doesn’t open, we would not be concerned about the landing. I understood his reasoning.
On the way up, I asked if he had a reserve chute on. “Yep,” came his reply. He said he would be dead 19 times without that reserve chute. Amazingly, I still had no concern about the jump. I completely trusted him and Him (Capitalized ‘Him’ means God).
Far above the clouds
We reached the altitude of 12,000 feet, at least one mile above the clouds, and Joe gave me the final instructions of where to place my hands and even my head when we jumped out of the plane. After we were clear of the plane, I was to change the position of my hands and head.
The moment came and we were out in the air, picking up the speed of our descent to 120 mph. It was difficult to breathe with that much wind velocity coming at me, which Joe had cautioned me about, but then his hand grabbed my head and he pointed to the cameraman who was free-falling out in front of us. I was to keep my eyes on the cameraman and wave or do whatever to make it look like I was having fun. And it was fun; I did not have to pretend.
Before I knew it, we had free-fallen one mile, the chute opened, and then Joe instructed me how to adjust my harness to get comfortable. By the time I got everything adjusted and could look around, we were far below the clouds. I finally looked at the earth below and it was beautiful. We floated the rest of the way to the ground and before long we made a perfect landing standing up. What a thrill!
What I didn’t expect
As soon as we landed, the cameraman was there to get my comments regarding the jump. That is when I realized that I had not even thought about God the entire jump after leaving the plane. Actually, I could not even remember much about the jump. I was so focused on the instructions of exiting the plane, the cameraman as we were free-falling, and then the instructions about adjusting the harness after the chute opened that I could not remember much at all about the jump. I had to wait to see the video to see what I had just experienced but could not remember. I never expected that I could jump out of a plane over two miles above the earth and not remember much about the jump. No way! But, oh yes!
What an experience, but it is so much like life. I had gotten so wrapped up in the particulars of the jump that I missed the experience. I had gotten distracted, but isn’t that like life?
You and I go through life and we get so caught up in our everyday busyness that we often miss what living is all about. As with my jump, we get so caught up in the excitement, fun, troubles, plans, concerns and worries that we often forget about God, and we also forget about the big picture of life.
What does this mean?
Well, let’s first ask what life is supposed to be about. A simple verse from the Bible answers that question.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
Our main purpose in life is to glorify God. We are to do this in everything we think, say, and do, all day everyday, all night every night. With every breath we take, we are to glorify God, but oh, how we fail so miserably.
Life is like jumping out of a plane.
Life passes us by and is over before we know it. We get caught up with so many nonessentials of life that we cannot enjoy it like God intends. We fail to really experience life and we fail to experience God.
So, here is my suggestion. Pull the cord now. Open the parachute so you can slow down and start enjoying life: life in God and life in general. Look around and find someone you can be Jesus to. Discover someone you can serve. Be Jesus to your family: your spouse, your son, your daughter, and other loved ones. Look at all the beauty of God’s creation. Don’t miss God. Don’t miss the simple things of life. Don’t miss the life that God intended for you