Free Fall

It all starts with one big push. Out you come like a cannonball, flying into the unknown. The chill blasts your face like none other. You are utterly alone. Even with people cheering you on. Turning. Spinning. Eyes watering. You gasp. The air is different. Your lungs freeze up for what seems like forever. You cry out. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time.

Your eyes burst open. Searching. Frantic. Enamored with the expansive view. A view like you’ve never seen before. A perspective that initially takes a mighty toll on all your senses.

Fear storms in. You’ve never felt anything like it. The world is much bolder than you could have even imagined. And now you’re hurtling through it. Exposed. Vulnerable. Virtually helpless.

Then the questions come. Will you survive? Why didn’t you just remain inside, where it was safe? Will you ever come to rest? What will life be like moving forward?

And so, day one of your life as a newborn begins.

Life is like skydiving. Being born into this wild world is a lot like jumping out of an airplane—straight into the biting cold of astronomical altitudes. So many unknowns. Such great danger. Such an enormous call for trust. Like never before.

It’s all about perspective though. See, I find it interesting that many of us don’t see the connection—that life is very much like a free fall. We just don’t see that that crazy-falling-feeling is actually supposed to be there—that it’s normal. Mostly. And that it will go away. Mostly. When we stop fighting.

Think about it. The minute we come out of the shoot, our lives are turned upside down. From water to air? From warm to cold? From snuggled to cur-fluffled? And there’s really nothing we can do about it.

Similar to leaping out of a plane; once we jump, we can’t go back. A wild and wacky journey is thrust upon us, with all of its twists and turns, mysteries and suddenlies.

You never know what will happen. Violent wind gusts pitching you to and fro. Unexpected collisions with other untrained jumpers. And the ever looming threat of meeting the hard, cold earth.

What will that be like? When will it happen? How will it happen? Will it hurt? Will I feel anything?

So many questions.

I must confess. I have never skydived before. I do believe I would like to try it sometime, though. But it makes me nervous. Very nervous. So much to consider. So much to risk. I think.

Yet I imagine the fears of skydiving in the same light that I imagine the fears of life. It’s all in how you look at it. How you handle it. We can lose our minds, flail about, whine and moan, and then go on and on about how scary it is—about how lost we are—about how out of control we feel. Or, we can suck it up and learn to ride the wind.

Ride the wind.

If I was in a plane at 10,000 feet and someone pushed me out—having never skydived before—you and I both know what I would do. PANIC. That’s right. I would absolutely start squealing and screaming. I’d start waving my arms and legs around frantically, every which way, desperately attempting to find a way to stop the falling.

This sounds a lot like us when it comes to the challenges of life. Its like we’re completely out of control. We really have no idea which way is up or down, and we fly around with a wind-burnt look on our faces and in our hearts.

We’re beat down. Discouraged. Depressed. Hopeless. And downright worried out of our minds. What if this happens? What if that doesn’t happen? Who is going to help me? Which way will I turn?

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25-34

You see, its one thing for me to be pushed out of a plane. I am a novice. But if we shoved a professional skydiver out of a plane, he would react entirely different. Of course, if he didn’t have a parachute on, there would be some serious freaking going on. But once he got himself together, he would do what he was trained to do. Ride the wind.

We’ve seen these wind-racers. They know exactly how to navigate the free fall. How to embrace its power. How to spread their wings and soar. Instead of floundering with vigor, they’re falling with verve!

They can spread arms wide and purposefully slow up, or pull in and rocket downward. They can perform fantastic feats like nobody’s business. Flips, curls, turn, spins, dives. Almost like they’re walking on the clouds.

My feeling is we need to do what the skydivers do. Navigate the free fall of life. Instead of repeatedly praying to avoid the free fall. Instead of clenching our eyes shut, in order to wish it all away. Instead of resigning to our own demise. Instead of vomiting at the mouth. What if we began to come to grips with the fact that life is a free fall? What if we learned to thrust and move like a skydiver? What if we accepted the fact that we will never ever be in control of our life? That we will never be able to make it turn exactly the way we want it to? What if, instead of trying to prevent the falling, we learned how to manage the little parts—the parts we can control?

The manner in which we fall.

We can either plummet downward, shrieking to certain death, or we can fall gracefully, effortlessly into the arms of God. While some spend their lives fighting against him, against the free fall, we can learn to go with it. Even abandoning ourselves to the wonder of it all. Or using it to our advantage, according God’s will.

We may come to the realization that the violent wind isn’t so terrible after all. We may uncover ways to assist other terrified, inexperienced jumpers along the way. We may even slide right into God’s flow, letting it pull us this way and that, finding often times that it is directing us out of danger. Danger we would never have avoided if we’d been fighting against it.

Like most analogies, this one breaks down. But it has a surprise ending. Instead of winding up like a flattened pancake, we begin to realize the bottom is way, way down. Further than we thought. And when we finally arrive there, what is waiting is not a tragic ending, but a beautiful beginning—there in the loving arms of our Heavenly Maker.

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