by Tracy Cooper
Have you ever peered over the edge of a 700 ft drop (216 meters)? The equivalent height of a 70-story building.
Just imagine. You are on a bridge, 700 feet above a river gorge. The scenery is beautiful. A slight breeze is blowing. You look down and see trees and boulders below you. Way below you. You think you see people looking up at you, but you can’t quite make out the small ant-size figures. The sky above you is bright blue. The white clouds are seemingly within grasp. And then the countdown begins… 3…2…1. You jump! You trust the bungee cord will not break.
Those of you who don’t like heights are probably having a small panic attack right about now.
Last month, some friends of ours were visiting us in South Africa. As we traveled along the Garden Route (the southern coastal route), we came upon Bloukrans River Bridge. The highest commercial bungee jump from a bridge in the world. The view was breathtaking. We stopped to have lunch and watch the few daring jumpers.
During lunch, our friend kept trying to decide if he was going to jump or not. He had thought about bungee jumping in the past. Now was his chance. And why start small. This was the largest bridge jump in the world! Not just in South Africa — in the world!
By the time we were finished eating. He had made up his mind. He would do it. Personally, I was thinking that he should have done this before he ate, not after.
We all went to the registration desk. The three of us non-jumpers tried not to let on that we thought he was crazy. But he was confident in his decision. This place had not had any incidents since opening 23-years ago. A seamless record of safety. He put his trust in their promise of his security.
To give him moral support at the actual jump site, and curious to see the jump from that point of view, I went out onto the bridge with him. His wife and Kurt stayed below to take pictures. Once there, several employees wrapped his ankles with velcro type straps, wound the cord around his ankles, shuffled him to the edge and gave a few quick instructions. Next thing I know, just like that, he leaped!
Remember, he knew their safety record. He had no reason to think he wouldn't be safe. So he confidently jumped, trusting in the promise that everything would be just fine.
I’m not sure if this is how it works everywhere, but here at this particular site, once you jump, you hang there upside down until someone comes down to get you and bring you back up. It was during the wait (maybe 2 minutes) when fear set in. Not before the jump. Not during the jump. But after the jump. Fear. He felt his ankles were slipping out of the grip of the straps. He began to doubt the promise of safety.
Can you imagine? There you are hanging upside down over a rocky gorge and you feel like you are slipping out of the grip of the ankle straps!
How many of us have trusted God’s promises and taken the leap, and then fear we will slip out of His grip? And why? We know we can put our trust in his promises! He has a seamless record of promise keeping.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; for I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I allowed this to happen to me several years ago when Kurt and I were moving our family of six from Florida to Virginia. I had never lived anywhere except Florida. I was born in Hollywood, grew up in West Palm Beach, went to college in Tampa and then had my first job in Orlando. I was a Florida girl through and through.
Eight years into our marriage, Kurt was offered a transfer to Virginia Beach. It was not a mandatory move, but an opportunity for growth. Should we take it? It means uprooting our family. Not an easy decision. We turned to the Lord in prayer, separately and together. We got our answer. Move.
Trusting God, we tied the bungee around our ankles, shuffled to the edge and jumped. We announced the move to our family and friends, put our house on the market, and began making preparations for the move. We knew it was what we were supposed to do. It was exciting. Exhilarating.
While we hung there for 4 months waiting for the actual move, the fear set in. What are we thinking? How can we move away from our family? How can we uproot our children? Our oldest was starting Kindergarten and would be moved after the school year started. We would be leaving so many friends. We would be leaving the church family we loved. How do we afford clothes for different seasons (this was not something I ever dealt with in South Florida!)?
What I think I was really asking was, “Will God really take care of us? Do I trust in His seamless record of promise keeping? Or now that we have jumped, will we slip out of His grip and fall?”
I am glad to tell you that the transition from South Florida to Chesapeake, Virginia was smoother than I ever expected. God kept his promise. Although I could not change the fact that we were moving away from our family, God certainly took care of all of my other fears. Our children met new friends the day we arrived in Virginia and acted like they had always lived there. Our Florida church family had a going away party and brought winter clothes for each of the kids. Our oldest who was struggling with full-day kindergarten in Florida, transitioned into half-day Kindergarten in VA with ease. People in our new neighborhood quickly friended us. We found an awesome church family right away. God took care of everything. Everything!
Have you ever trusted God, jumped, and then feared slipping from His grip? In Jeremiah 17:7 we are reminded, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
As you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and trust in His promises, I encourage you not to fear slipping from His grip. God has an awesome record of being a Promise Keeper!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9