You and the tandem partner strapped to your back—whom you’ve known for only five minutes—shuffle toward the back of the narrow airplane, where the door is open wide. Everything you’ve ever learned through commercial flying has been defied in the last thirty seconds, especially as you’ve watched the three other tandem teams stand in the doorway and immediately disappear.
Now it’s your turn to plummet. As you hang out the door, there is absolutely nothing between you and the ground, which is more than ten thousand feet below. Even though you’ve traveled by air all your life, the sensation of looking so far down is not the same as that moment you let go.
You tumble, even though it feels as if the sun and sky and earth are actually tumbling around you. You hear very little due to the fact that you are now free-falling at 120 mph. As you stabilize, a perfect view of the ground and horizon presents itself before you.
You spread your arms and the wind races through your fingers. It’s difficult to breathe, and yet you don’t even feel as if you’re falling. The whole world is still nine thousand feet away.
And then…the canopy opens.
Your feet fall into alignment under you and the race of wind in your ears eases to a whisper.
And then begin the most peaceful three minutes of your life.
In that first moment of hovering between earth and sky, you realize that you’d never known true silence before. Not like this. You’re now traveling with the clouds, the rest of the world more than a mile below.
You could stay up here for hours.
Sooner than you’d like, the ground comes up to meet you, and your feet are touching soil yet again. When you take off the equipment and thank your tandem partner for keeping you alive, you look up into the distance you just fell through. And just like that, the sky doesn’t feel so far away.
That’s what my first skydive was like. It’s also how I’m starting to look at faith. And not coincidentally, it’s also how I visualize my journey of knowing and believing God’s love.
Just as it takes more than a “think-happy-thoughts” level of trust to jump out of an airplane, it takes more than feelings to know God’s love.
If you’re like me, God’s love simply isn’t a thought or emotion you’re regularly conscious of. But, this week, as I was discussing the question, “Is God still God whether or not a person, population, or planet believes in him?” my own statement reminded me that truth is truth whether you accept it or not.
“If I say I don’t believe in gravity and then I jump out of an airplane,” I said, “I’ll still plummet to the earth.”
Days later, I was rephrasing the question to myself: “If I don’t feel/believe/comprehend God’s love, does it mean it’s not real?”
God’s love is like skydiving. It’s as real as the gravity that pulls you to the ground and makes the journey more than you ever expected. You can’t deny it, even if you can’t explain it. You can’t escape it, even if you defy it. It doesn’t stop, even if you don’t feel it.
I’m learning to take the leap of faith and acknowledge that God’s love is everything he says it is. Present, active, unconditional, immeasurable, free…
In other words, God’s love is what it is, regardless of what I am.
Think of what daredevil Christ-followers we could be if we jumped at every chance to believe in his depth of affection and commitment toward us. His love is worth the leap.