The day this article is due happens to coincide with the day that I jump out of a plane for the very first (and potentially last) time in my life.
Jumping out of aircraft is counter-intuitive at the best of times, a self-evident act of stupidity. Besides, I’m terrified of heights.
So… why am I doing this? Well, it was a “gift” from my colleagues at Baptist Youth Ministries (may the Lord bless and keep them) after I finished up with BYM twelve months earlier, prior to working with Global Interaction. And I’ve been putting it off all year… but today’s the day.
I’m going to be strapped to the chest of an experienced skydiver like some giant, helpless baby. I’ll have no control. I’m told that even should I decide that all this is just too painfully and obviously idiotic I’ll still be shoved out of that plane once it’s off the ground. I’ve seen the YouTube evidence to back up the claim.
The thought occurs to me that there was once a time when my tandem instructor was in the very same position as me: an uninitiated, untested novice. Probably just as scared, too…
I wonder if Jesus’ first followers sometimes felt like they were in this kind of position? Completely out of control, in a context that they couldn’t comprehend and tied to a focused, courageous, possibly crazy master who’d called them to follow him wherever he led.
Think about it for a moment. In Luke 18:28 Peter remarks, “we’ve left everything to follow you…” There was no turning back. The plane was off the ground.
Initially, Jesus called on his followers to come and watch him in ministry and mission. It was boots and all stuff. He healed the sick, cast out demons and picked fights with the most powerful (and most corrupt) leaders in the country.
The next aspect of his strategy was to work alongside his followers – note the feeding of the 5000: when the disciples came to Jesus and suggested he send the hungry crowd away, Jesus simply replied, “you feed them…” Presumably he wasn’t joking.
After his resurrection Jesus instructs his disciples to “go and make disciples”, with the promise that he will be with them always by his Holy Spirit.
1,2,3 – GO!
Just as my skydive instructor once started as a frightened novice (like me!), so too do young followers of Jesus. Equally necessary is that young disciples are held as securely as I will be today…just as my instructor himself once was. And his instructor before him…
I’m humbled to think of the men and women of God who have taken the time to intentionally or incidentally disciple me. Many still do. I am who I am today because of their faithfulness.
In turn I love that I get to shape young men and women via the Plunge Gap Year Program and by volunteering on the youth ministry team at my Church and by being a Dad.
Buckle up. We’re going skydiving!