Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Free Falling

The door to the plane slid open and the wind came rushing in. For a split second the question crossed my mind: “Am I really going to jump out of this airplane?”

We all have bucket lists. Even since my college days skydiving was on mine. A few weeks ago my daughter, Bethany, asked to do a tandem skydive as her birthday gift. Since all my kids are now grown, the responsibility to be vigilantly cautious so I could live to raise them was no longer a consideration. What’s the worst thing that could have happened? Meet Jesus a little early? Not a bad option, so I quickly volunteered to go with her.

On that Saturday morning I fully expected the nerves to kick in. Didn’t happen on the drive out to Jamul. Once we got there we had to completely sign our lives away in recognition of possible injury or death. That should have scared me, but it barely registered. Quickly we went through training. All five minutes of it. I guess when it’s a tandem dive you really don’t need to know much.

Next we got the jump gear on and met our tandem guides. Mine was exactly the kind of guy I’d pictured; Tattoo Ron had long dreadlocks, camouflage shorts, and wore the casual cockiness of an adrenaline junkie. I liked him immediately.

They quickly loaded about sixteen of us into the well-worn and very noisy Otter PY airplane, seating us on benches along each side. Full power, steeply climbing into the sky. As I looked out the window I remember wondering; “I’m going to jump from this altitude?” Climbing even higher I still wasn’t nervous…probably because it was too late for that.

At one point we leveled off, and our guides did whatever they to do attach themselves to our backs. I’m probably better off not knowing what it was.

Bethany looked across at me. I think she was a little green. That’s when the door slip open. Here I was, 10,000 feet above the ground, strapped to Tattoo Ron and his dreadlocks. I had never met him before, and I was putting my life in his hands. And I had never even thought twice about it!

I watched in a bizarrely detached mode as Bethany tumbled out the door. Then Tattoo Ron and I crab-walked to the edge and I squatted down as we’d been instructed. I never had to make the conscious decision to jump, as he tapped me on the shoulder once…twice...and then rolled out the door, taking me with him.

pre skydive

And there I was, free falling at about 115 mph! Adrenaline coursing wildly, I completely abandoned myself to the experience. It was the most glorious sense of flying, of complete freedom from all the constraints of earthbound reality. In the initial thrill I almost forgot that I was strapped to Ron. When he eventually pulled the cord to release the parachute I was really glad he was there to remember to do it!


The rest of the way down was a slower-paced fall, full of spirals and big, sweeping turns. Tattoo Ron narrated the scenery, pointing out the Pacific Ocean, downtown San Diego, and the Mexican border. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear his voice.

A long, long way down was the landing pad. He was in complete control and I was perfectly okay with that. When it was time to land he gave me directions: “Put your legs straight out in front of you, lift your feet, and let me cushion the impact.” The landing I had dreaded was actually sweet and soft.

If I could trust Tattoo Ron with my life, why do I ever hesitate to trust Jesus?

Ron was paid to be my guide. Jesus paid a high price so He could do it because He loves me.

Sometimes I fret because I can’t always see what He is doing. But I know He is there, because I can hear His observe. Giving direction. Narrating the rhythm of my life. Pointing out things for me to see. Always near. So I don’t need to be afraid to put my life in His hands. There is no risk to taking that leap of faith. Because I cannot fall without Him being there to catch me.

Will life ever get scary? Sure. Will I ever feel out of control? Absolutely. Life sometimes comes at me fast. But because there is one to whom I am irrevocably and intimately yoked I can surrender to Him.

Because my ultimate bucket list? To trust Jesus when life seems like a free fall. To embrace all that He has for me. To trust Him, because when I hear His voice I can fully enjoy the ride.

There is no greater adventure than to abandon myself completely to the His control. That’s the kind of free falling I really crave.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.                     Jeremiah 29:11

Further reflection:

  1. Have you ever struggled to abandon yourself fully to God’s control?
  2. What did (or would) you lose, and what did (or would) you gain, when you finally did?

Father, thank You for every promise in Your word. You are a friend that sticks closer than a brother. You are the voice behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” And no matter what, You will never leave me. Have Your way in me; I surrender to the glorious adventure of following You.


  1. I love your illustration of complete trust in Jesus. If we can trust man, how much more can we trust Jesus? Great thing to remember.

  2. Thanks, Marilyn. Our trust in Him is never misplaced!

  3. What a great illustration! I needed to hear this today. I have had the opportunity to sky dive and loved it too. My life is in a state of free fall and God keeps providing peace, one day at a time.

    1. Sometimes He is the only lifeline to hold on to when life is like that. Praying you continue to experience His peace.