I love adventure! To a certain extent, I’m even wired for it. Embracing a challenge that makes my blood rush gives me a thrill. While I’m not interested in pushing the odds of an early demise, I like to push myself from time to time.

One of the best adventures of all was when I went skydiving in June 2011. Whenever I talk about going skydiving, the first question people ask is WHY?! Well, the simple answer is that I didn’t want to pet a tarantula. Ha!

In June 2011, I prepared to give a weekend message about Caleb and Joshua from the Old Testament. The message theme was courage, so as our top-notch programming team suggested that I do something courageous to kick off the series. The room started buzzing at that point and I knew what was coming:

Someone: “I’VE GOT IT! Barb, you could go to the zoo and pet a tarantula.”

Me: “No.”

Someone: “But, that would take courage.”

Me: “Sobbing hysterically and peeing my pants on camera isn’t courageous. What else we got?”

Someone else: “You could go skydiving. Hahaha!!”

We called 1-800-SKY-DIVE and just like that, I was going skydiving. THE NEXT DAY.

The next morning, I drove 2 1/2 hours east to a little town just outside of Canton, Ohio with one of our arts pastors and one of our videographers. My parents only lived about 30 minutes from where I would do the jump, but I figured I would call them after I survived instead of before. No need to worry them, right? After all, I promised my husband that I would try to not die and that I’d be home in time to make dinner.

On arrival, there were lots of papers to sign, but it really could have been summed up by stating “If you die, it isn’t our fault.” Then, I headed over to pick up my jumpsuit. I’m not a jumpsuit kinda girl, and they don’t exactly make them cute, but whatever.

Next, I participated in a 30-minute instructional session and learned how parachutes worked. They also explained what I needed to do in the air and most importantly, right before landing. Remembering those important details kept my mind off the fact that I would freefall 10,000 ft to the ground.

Then, I met my jump partner, Mike. My suit had a hook that would be tethered to Mike’s hook on the way down. Why? Because 30-minutes isn’t nearly enough time to learn how to jump out of an airplane on my own and survive. Imagine my thrill when Mike mentioned that he’s jumped out of an airplane over 5,000 times. Jumping out of a plane for Mike was like driving to work for me. And, Mike was tall, so I didn’t have to worry about squishing him if we landed wrong.

Mike and I walking out to the plane. Excited, but nervous!

Mike and I walking out to the plane. Excited, but nervous!

 

Notice how I'm tucked up right next to the pilot. It was a tight space, but I had enough room to fold my little hands together and pray.

Notice how I’m tucked up right next to the pilot. It was a tight space, but I had enough room to fold my little hands together and pray.

Finally, it was time.

Mike and I walked out to the teeniest, tiniest, dinky little plane I’d ever seen. There wasn’t enough room for me to sit in the back with the other two jumpers. So I sat in a space on the floor next to the pilot, facing toward the back of the plane. As we taxied down the field, the pilot told us that it would take about 20 minutes for us to reach our jump zone. That meant I had 20 minutes to think. And pray. And pray more. There was lots ‘o praying.

Here’s the video from the weekend message, including the skydive. Just keep reading after the video!

Lots of people asked me if I was scared. Not really. I like to sum it up in one word: crazy! Free-falling at 120mph is pretty wild. I loved how fast we were moving through the air and I was excited that Mike was doing all of the work so that I could enjoy the moment. I was tethered to someone who knew what he was doing and that made all of the difference.

Just the same is if you walk with God, you’re tethered to Him and He will never leave you alone.

So, the point of sharing my story wasn’t to convince you to go skydiving. But, I hope that my story might prod you toward in to take a brave step of faith toward some place God has been calling you to go. For every place God calls you to go, He goes with you – and that’s the most important thing to remember.

In the Old Testament, there were numerous times when God reminds His people to press forward, even though they might be worried about how things will turn out. Here’s God’s reminder:
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
These are the words I want to leave you with today. For whatever you are facing today that makes you anxious, afraid, or discouraged, you are not alone. When we think that we’re all alone, it’s never a good feeling. Yet, in both the Old and New Testament, we see God’s constant message that even though we live in a world where bad things happen and evil exists, God is present. We can press forward through difficult, even tragic circumstances with bravery and courage when we remember that God is present and will strengthen us through our trials.

Be strong and courageous, today.

 

This photo was captured mid-air during my skydive.

This photo was captured mid-air during my skydive. I call it my “Kermit the Frog” picture.

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