The Jump

     You stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Wind rustled your hair, teasing you— if it was a little stronger it would push you off. You wished it would, because you weren’t sure you could do it. You weren’t sure you could jump.

The Grand Canyon (picture taken by author in March 2017)

    Sucking in a breath, you took another step closer to the edge, looking further down.
    You had come all this way just for this moment. You couldn’t just not do it now.
    “Kimball, if you don’t want to do it right now, you don’t have to.”
    Soren floated in front of you. His bare toes brushed the dirt just slight, and then left the ground as he soared out onto the cliff, effortlessly. Beautifully. Without a worry or care. 
    You shifted. That is what you wanted.
    Soren looked down, his face twisting slightly. 
    “It’s beautiful, Kim, but I just don’t get why—“ 
    “If I’m going to die,” you interrupted, then hesitated. “If I’m going to die…” You looked down at the chasm. “Then I want it to be worth it. I want it to be beautiful.” 
    “You might not die.” 
    “I might not live either.” The rays of the setting sun made the canyon a more vibrant shade of orange. 
    “I’ll catch you.” 
    You looked back up at him. His sincere eyes seemed to glow in the light of the setting sun. 
    “That’s not how it works.” 
    “Who says that’s not how it—?” 
    “I have to feel the rush. I have to feel the fear. I have to expect to hit the ground, I can’t count on you to catch me, or I won’t fly. That’s how it works.” You took a shaky breath, and then another small step toward the edge. You could hear the sound of sightseers behind you still, but no one questioned or stopped you. “We all know this is how it works.”
    “I don’t want you to die, Kim,” his voice cracked, and he looked down. Soren floated toward you and touched the ground, which he only did when he was going to hug you, so you held out your arms. He stepped into your embrace and hugged you tightly. 
    “I have to know, Soren,” you whispered, your heart pounding. “I love you more than anything else, but I have to know. If I don’t, what kind of existence will I live?” 
    “An existence with me, on the ground, would that be so bad?” he whispered back. 
    “No. In fact, it’s all I ever wanted…” water began to fill your eyes, but you quickly blinked it back. “But I will be plagued by the question, the idea of it… and I will go insane. Because… what if I can fly? What if I am like you?” 
    He stepped back and looked at you, his gaze trailing up and down your face.
    “But what if…?” 
    “No. I am doing this.” 
    You pushed him gently and put your toes on the very edge. Only half an inch kept you from your destiny. 
    “Kimball…” Soren said, his voice tight.
    “Tell me again how it feels.” You looked up at the sky, and then closed your eyes. 
    “It’s… terrifying. The jump,” Soren began timidly.
    “I thought you said you were excited when you did it,” you interrupted. 
    “I was. All my friends had done it and described it to me. I was twelve, so I didn’t think twice until I stood on the edge.” 
    You opened your eyes, embracing where you stood. 
    “And then it occured to me for the first time, as I stood there, with all my friends watching… that I might not make it.” 
    You embraced the fear as he spoke.
    “I’m still not sure whether it was peer pressure, or stupidity, but, looking back… I just knew I would fly. I had faith that I would rise from the ground. So when I jumped… I relished the wind and the speed… and the view. It wasn’t much, it wasn’t like this, but the trees and the sky… I wanted to keep seeing it. And I did. There were shivers on my body when the gravity suddenly didn’t seem so heavy… and then, I just remember there being more wind, and an endless sea of trees…” 
    Soren took a deep breath. 
    “Take the jump, Kimball. It’s worth it.”
    “H-how, how will I know how to do it? What if I can fly, but I fall because I don’t know how?” your heart was beating erratically, your courage was failing, maybe you didn’t want this— 
    “It doesn’t work that way. If you can fly, you will. You won’t be able to stop yourself.” Soren touched your elbow, and you looked at him. “I support whatever you choose right now, Kimball.” 
    “Thank you. I love you.” 
    And then you stepped forward.
    You screamed, and it echoed around your body as you plunged. The wind pushed against you, and you fell faster, and faster. The orange light was blinding, the wind blurred your vision, you stretched out your arms toward the light as you were plunged suddenly into the shadow of the canyon. The ground zoomed toward you. You tried to feel the shivers, you tried to pull yourself back toward the light, but you realized in that last moment that you would not escape the earth’s pull. 
    You couldn’t fly.
    You shut your eyes. 
    And then a loud shout sounded next to you, and you opened your eyes to see the tops of trees and a river and then— 
    Soren grabbed your shirt and screamed loudly, pulling you forward with him. You screamed as you flew past the trees, their branches hitting your arms until you finally flew into a clearing. Your shirt was riding up, it was going to snap from the speed and the weight and you imagined falling into the river beneath you— but then he swooped upward and— let go. You soared upward with a scream, but in a short second arms were wrapped tightly around your waist, his chest in your face, and as you pulled your head up your eyes were blinded by the light. 
    He flew foward again, and you wrapped your legs and arms around him. Your eyes were wide and your breathing was heavy, as you comprehended what had just happened. 
    “You— you— you saved me! You caught me! Soren? How could you? How could you? How? How c—?” Tears overflowed your eyes and you clutched him tightly, trying not to sob. The wind blew the tears from your cheek.
    “Kimball, I…” 
    “I can’t fly, Soren. I didn’t feel any of it. I was just afraid. I was just falling. There was no faith, there was nothing, there wasn’t anything, I just fell…” You looked down at the terrifyingly beautiful canyon beneath you.
    “Shhhh,” he rubbed your back, “It’s okay.” 
    “But I can’t fly, Soren, I can’t fly…” 
    “You don’t need to fly. You have me.” He held you tightly, and soared farther up, up toward the clouds and the blue and the orange. You shut your eyes, breathing in his scent.
    And you felt the shackles fall off of your soul and your mind. It suddenly didn’t matter that you couldn’t fly. You were free.

By the Word of Their Testimony

Hello. My name is Mary, but I am not the one who sits at Jesus’ feet. I am Martha. I am the one working to provide you with a place to sleep and a meal to eat, and trying to figure out how we can afford to host thirteen people. I am the self-sufficient one who would rather be working than sitting. I am the one who kills my own soul every day by choosing service and busyness over being in His presence.

It has never been a question of if I believe or not. It has always been: how am I proving it?

Throughout middle and high school I was always serving in some capacity at my church. Always. I played on worship teams for the main service and for youth group. I taught lessons at Bible studies, provided childcare for Women’s Ministry events, helped with VBS and occasionally children’s church— I was always doing something in the church, or acting out my faith in some way.

This is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, I think this is what Christians are called to do. We are called to be witnesses, we are called to go, we are called to be His Church in this dark world.

I think when where I went wrong was not my acts of service, but the reasoning behind them.

If you asked me, of course it was all for God. I don’t think at the time I would’ve recognized the difference between doing things for God’s glory and my own, because when what you want and what God wants are similar, it’s a difficult difference to find.

I know now that I never really trusted Him with my life. I trusted that I would go to heaven when I died, but I did not trust Him with my present life.

I had my own plans. I was going to save the world by showing them Jesus. Wasn’t that what He wanted anyway?

Nobody ever questioned me. I never questioned myself. I never bothered to stop and let God question me, either. I powered through high school, serving and working and doing everything I could to keep myself busy and away from His presence, because I knew. I knew that if I asked Him that He would tell me to do something I didn’t want to; I knew that He would take away my dreams, and I couldn’t give them up.

I choose many things over God, but it didn’t look like it, not even to me. Because I was still serving Him, wasn’t I? I was still being faithful, wasn’t I? So why did it matter that I was helping advance the Kingdom of God in my own way? It was all the same, wasn’t it? At least I was doing something.

I gave in and went to Bible College, since it allowed me to get an early start on my career plan that I had crafted for myself. Bible College wasn’t exactly what I had been hoping for, but it didn’t mess with the future I was envisioning for myself. In fact, it was easier to control things going there, since I had more scholarship opportunities. And plus, that’s where all the really good Christian people went to college, right? And that’s what I was. So I went.

In reality, my mindset was that it was something I could control and that it would serve me and my future well.

I wasn’t able to recognize that at the time, however, because I did not give myself the time to think about it. I kept busy. I served on this team and that team, and I traveled and I took a lot of classes and I made new friends and— I didn’t take sabbaths. I never stopped to breathe, let alone think about my life, or my faith, or my choices, or that fact that I could feel something was missing.

Because I was doing this for God, right? It couldn’t be wrong.

But I never let myself rest or even talk to God in a deep or meaningful way. I was blind in both eyes, claiming I could see. What I was doing wasn’t wrong, but my heart wasn’t in the place to do it, because I was choosing busyness over His Presence, and it was killing me.

And God loved me too much to let me commit such horridly slow suicide.

So, in January, He exploded my appendix and basically ruined my life.

Did God Himself cause it, or did He simply allowed it to happen? I don’t know, but I do know that it was Him saving me from the life I was living— though I didn’t realize it at the time. At the time, all I could think was that my life was ruined. I had the next semester planned out. Everything was going exactly the way I wanted— but then I got stuck in the hospital for three weeks. I missed two weeks of classes and two months of trips and opportunities. After my initial stay at the hospital, I was allowed to go back to school while the antibiotics worked on killing the infection around my burst appendix. I went back home a month later to have it removed, and overall the doctors claimed this was the more efficient and safe way for the surgery to be done. I should have been grateful that the infection hadn’t killed me and that I had such gracious doctors who knew exactly what to do— but I couldn’t be grateful, I could only be furious that I was missing out on months of my life because a stupid little whatever decided to explode in me.


The view out of my hospital window (photo credit goes to my mom!)

I was angry. I was frustrated and confused. I was spiritually and emotionally wrecked.

Why did that have to happen to me? I was following God’s will for my life, wasn’t I? I was the one actually trying to do something for Him, so why was this stumbling block put in my way? I was being faithful in my work and plans, wasn’t I? They were all for Him! So why was He letting this happen?

During this time, my life was wrenched free from my grip, and I faceplanted into the realization that I was not in control, as hard as I tried to be.

And, as I tried to get back on my feet, I realized that my faith was very, very small. Because if I had been at peace with God, if I had been secure in my faith, if I really trusted that God loved me and had a plan, then I would not have stayed up for nights on end sobbing because life wasn’t fair; I wouldn’t have screamed and blamed God for everything; I wouldn’t have been so easily deceived by the devil; I wouldn’t have felt like the foolish man on the sand. I would have felt safe on the rock, if I had only been seeking Him, and not my own success.

2016 has been the worst year of my life. My spiritual and emotional struggle lasted all throughout the summer. I was a spiritual zombie, and I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong and why I couldn’t fix it.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the reason I can’t fix it is because it isn’t up to me to fix it, just like it isn’t up to me to create my own future.

It literally took me months to figure out that the reason why I couldn’t feel better and why nothing I did was working was because I am not the savior.

I was baptized when I was 7, but I had never truly made Jesus the Lord over my life, and that was made obvious in the fact that I had never trusted Him with it. I am holding onto my life with a clenched fist, and I don’t want to let Him have my hopes and my dreams because I am so worried about what He will do with them. I have made myself blind by thinking I need to control my life, and the devil has tricked me into thinking that my own desires are what God wants too.

I know now that what God really wants, and what He has wanted all along, is for me to stop and actually be with Him, instead of do for Him. How could I be so prideful to think that I could do something for God that He couldn’t accomplish for Himself? This realization has been helpful as I have struggled to become less of a human doer and more of a human being whose worth is found in God, and not in herself and what she can accomplish.

And what does this realization require? A conscious decision to surrender daily.

And I wish I could say that life has been so much better and so much easier since I realized this, but it hasn’t. I have still had moments where I wrench my life from His hands and think that I know best. I am still learning, however, and at least now I know that I don’t actually know best. Though it is hard to swallow and I mess up a lot, God is still writing my testimony. And today, I am letting the Prince of Peace be my Lord.

The Prayer of Psalm 13

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