8am. A foggy Sunday morning. As I walked toward an air strip in the middle-of-nowhere South Carolina, besides a large hangar framed with the word “Skydive”, the dense fog exposed only a couple tattered one-man camping tents pitched just short of the muddy parking area.
What a random place to come camping. This area may be rural, but not really…woodsy. But rather than figuring out answers to inevitable “who” and “why” questions forming in my curious head, I was immediately distracted by the fellow emerging from said tent. Falling in-step with me, I finished up my Grande Americano as he licked his fingers free of powdered cheese residue from the value bag of cheese curls he had clearly marked as breakfast. (I quickened my pace…we were not together ;)) Judging from the motley wing-suit crew we came upon, it was clear I was the fish out of water, not him.
Confused as to where tandem novices were to go, I had no reason to worry. Like a moth to flame a peppy, middle aged man bee lined it towards me as if his purpose was to exclusively provide direction for one Megan Griffiths. “You look lost! Fear not! I’m Purple Mike.”
“Uh…yea…Purple Mike. I guess I am. Do I check in with you?”
“Well I don’t work here, but I’m sure we can find it together.”
Interesting. The nature of this interaction led me to believe you were a lucrative staff member.
I can’t say I was surprised. The hippie hang-loose vibe this place embraced was anything other than the corporate America vibe I’m certain I was putting out. Incidentally, I might note that I twice read all the instructions prior to my arrival. After all, I didn’t want my life to be in peril due to my oversight of a careful instruction such as recommended apparel. “What? You mean stilettos aren’t recommended footwear?” I had memorized the email containing do’s and don’ts and had noted “no alcohol is to be consumed the evening before your skydive”. Fair enough. But how come it felt as though the “professional” folks had already partaken of something more along the lines of an herbal refreshment?
And more importantly, why do I still feel completely safe doing this?
At one point on my skydive video (taken by none other than the cheese curl snacker, whose primary residence is the tent on the property), I’m asked “So, Megan, what would possess you to do this crazy thing?”
Well, I honestly don’t know. I have a sense of adventure, will try anything once. I can’t say I have a bucket list, but skydiving feels like a life requirement of sorts. I wanted to experience what seems to be a standard activity for a 20-something. My friend had extended an invitation, so it required little effort on my part. I had just gotten dumped, so obsessing over jumping out of a plane felt like a preferable emotion to attending a pity party for one.
All felt like decent reasons but honestly, as silly as it sounds, I hoped I would experience fear.
Fear is not a state I recall experiencing very often and it didn’t start with skydiving either. If throwing myself out of a plane at 14,000 feet in free fall at 120mph with nothing more than a thin jumpsuit between me and a stranger who lives in a camper with Christmas lights on it in doesn’t drum up fear, what does?
After asking myself, it took only 2 seconds to identify a few emotional doozies. Who was I kidding?! Seems to me that scripture wouldn’t have addressed fear hundreds of times if it didn’t touch everyone. After all, scripture doesn’t say we’ll never feel fear or assure us that our fears won’t materialize.
What it does say is that the spirit of fear – “the crushing inner turmoil of not trusting the Lord to be my sufficiency even if my worst fears actually occurred” – is not from God. So if I’m living with a spirit of fear and I know it’s not from God, I can be certain I’ve accepted what the devil is feeding me; “God is not actually with me, He won’t keep His promises, He won’t meet my needs.” The fear issue is actually a belief issue.
It also assures us that His perfect love drives out all fear. The more of God’s love we receive and download into our life, the less room there is for fear to get hold of our spirit. And the more we rehearse the promises that the Lord has made, the more prepared we are for the residual of when our worst fears occur.
We might be overwhelmed, but God promises that He is with us, to strengthen and uphold.
We might not know how to get up, but He promises to take up our cause, intercede for us and work it together for good.
Our worst fear might come true, but He promises that His grace will be given according to our need.
We might be broken hearted, but He promises that if we trust him, bringing our emotion, He will bind up those wounds and be near to those crushed in spirit.
We might feel like we’ll never recover, but He promises that we are more than conquerors.
Many of our fears have become reality before. In His history of faithfulness in our lives we can be witness to the fact that we’re here, not destroyed. With a whole heart, not a broken one. With hope in the Lords provision, not defeated in emotional poverty. So in the face of fear we can get up and obediently “Take courage!” and say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”