My instructor and I scootch closer to the roll-away door in the side of the plane at 12000 feet. Inching toward the jump deck beside me is my first born little boy—now 6’4” and, as of this day, graduated from high school. The sound of the single engine roars and communication is reduced to grins and wide-eyed expressions of, “Actually? Really? We’re going to do this?”
We exchange a final high five, fist bump, and hang loose sign, as was the custom among the professional jumpers on board, and he kneels before the gateway of gravity, ready to launch.
A million considerations flood my mind. Has he had enough instruction? Is he ready? What will God allow as he steps out? Trepidation crouches at the door, but so much more is the vicarious excitement.
Head back, chest forward, invincible as only a teenager can be, he embraces the adventure. As his instructor presses forward, I watch my son peel away from the safety of the aircraft and plummet toward the earth. He disappears from my line of sight—off into a world in which I have no control, no power, no ability to protect.
With only 8 seconds permitted between jumps, I utter a quick prayer for his chute to open, then shift focus to the thrill of my dive. I stand in the cut out of the plane’s belly, gazing toward the checkered fields of the Fraser Valley below. Surrounded by Mt. Baker to the south, the Cheam range to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, I am assured by the familiarity of the landscape.
My tandem leader rocks forward 1-2 and on 3, she pitches us into a free fall. We teeter forward and back until I remember the arched position I am supposed to assume, then we settle into a smooth drop—smooth as can be for falling 8000 feet in under a minute. The wind pelts my face, causing my mouth to dry up like a drop of water in a hot frying pan. With ears full of gusty air, the yelps and whoops that escape my mouth seem as though uttered by a distant stranger.
My affect flashes between exhilaration, concern over my still-closed chute, and a frantic desire to find my son under the protection of his canopy. My rapid-fire shifts in emotion and the world racing toward me, make skydiving metaphoric to my stage of life.
My son, who was once tucked in my nest—snuggled close in every thought, feeling and action—is taking off into the big ole world as an adult. My time, which had been dictated by caring for my kids, has a new tock of freedom and independence. The pace of life that once seemed to trickle like a lazy stream, now rushes me forward like class 4 rapids.
The adventure is thrilling, scary, invigorating, and exhausting. It requires I jump into the unknown and trust those I love to do the same. It requires faith. It requires a big God who is mighty beyond the calculated, powerful beyond the pews. He must be strong enough to create gravity, and generous enough to allow the invention of parachutes. A God untameable like the rushing wind and gentle like the canopy sail.
Isaiah 55:12 NIV, states: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
It’s Him who allows us to get jazzed on joy, rather than wound tight with worry. He’s the one who can lead us forth in peace. He’s the cause of this roar of nature, and the one to whom our treasures belongs. To join in the applause is sweet and unencumbered–so much better than the bitter gall of hypervigilance and distress.
Abundant life is not found by clasped hands and tickers that track every possible mishap. Jesus instructed us not to worry—not with a finger wagging—but with freedom in mind. We can’t add a day to our life through the fretting of our soul. If we allow it, He promises to lead us in joy and peace for His glory and our benefit. Our opportunity is to strap up for the wild ride, trusting Him to control what we can’t.