Saturday, November 20, 2010

Take the leap

"Jump for it!" I held my breath, flung myself into space, and plummeted toward the water.

Harrison Lake is deep and frigid, nestled in the Lillooet Ranges that feed the lake with their glaciers. Our group of friends often hung out on its rocky shores in summer, tanning, swimming, and playing games. 

At the back of the lake, an island peak jutts up about 50 feet from shore, an easy 200 yard swim from the beach. Occasionally, we'd clamber up its sides to the top tip, marveling at the spectacular beauty of nature. Most of our group could barely stay afloat, so a few of the guys and I explored together. 

One day, summer sun warming us and breezes drying our bathing suits after our swim over to the island, we decided that since there were perfectly good ledges above a sheer drop-off on one face, it might be fun to jump off.

The first ledge was not too high: 15 feet? We splashed in one after another, the icy water surprising the skin. Down, down, and then bubbles racing us to the surface, up and up to explode into the warm air. Gasping, shivering, smiling.

"How about we jump from the top? I see another lip we could try," one of the guys said. "C'mon, Rosemee, let's all dive off from up there."

We hadn't climbed down that side from the peak before: it was a treacherous cliff-hugging walk to the little outcropping. The little jumping ledge leaned over the water with only a small bump sticking out below. We could easily jump over that going down, but the trail itself hung over sharp rocks. But sure, we were young ("and stupid," says my 50-something brain), and down we slid, grabbing branches for balance. One at a time.

As I hugged the bones of the hill, the panorama of stunning mountains, sky, and endless lake spread out all around. Certain coldness lay below. The drafts of sunshine playing off cool waves and hot granite tickled up past me.

"Take the leap," I said to myself. "One. Two. Three." But I wasn't ready. My back remained firmly glued to the boulders.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. 

Once more. "One." "Two." "Three." Then, "GO!!!" and I hurled myself forward. Out and out to clear the hump of rock below.

I fell and fell and fell. I remember screaming with pleasure, watching the colors stream by my eyes, the adrenaline rush of plunging through air, and the shock of water. I let myself go far far down, slowing, then beginning to rise with sure lightness. My arms pulled upward, slashed the water, eyes open to see the green clearness above, lungs bursting. Up and up.

The guys cheered when I hit the surface. "Good one!" "Way to go!" But that was a bonus for what had just happened inside. I had pushed so far beyond my own comfort that the jump became a life marker.

An Olympic high-diver would poo-poo our little adventure. So would professional cliff-divers. But for amateurs like we were, it was enough. I never did it again. I never wanted to.

When God puts a challenge in my way that seems too hard, too far beyond my ability or experience, he brings to mind that leap at Harrison. It could have killed me if there had been rocks below. But there were no rocks, and the jump didn't end my life. It started a new chapter, making me stronger and confident in what can be done.

Bravery is not being fearless or reckless, but overcoming fear, considering risks, and doing what must be done. 

Where is God calling us to courage and brave service today? 

Read more:
*They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them. 

You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies: only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. 

O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. Psalm 44:3–8 NLT

*Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing ithe will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25 NIV

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