Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for - Undulating Upside down is Understandably Unnerving and seems an Unreasonable, Unbalanced, and Ugsome Undertaking; but for the Unafraid, it is Undeniably Uplifting, Uniquely Unparalleled, and Ultimatly Unforgettable.

(Title Translation:  Go Jump Off A Bridge.)
In 1989, for our 20th anniversary, our older daughter, Dawn, gave us a gift that we have never forgotten.  She arranged for us to experience the awesome thrill of bungee jumping. 

It occurred to me then, that the experience had many parallels (in type) to our experiences as to how we come to be saved.

The Cost
The price she paid was $80.00 per person which was rather pricey at the time; for her it was a great sacrifice.  But it was something she really wanted to give us and it was motivated by her love for us. She gave up all she had.   She used all the book money she had for the entire school year and managed her studies that year by using the library and borrowing books from her classmates.

That act of loving sacrifice reminded me that my salvation is a free gift.  Even though it came at no cost to me, it was very costly to God.   “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Dawn’s resources were limited.  But God’s unlimited love toward us motivated Him to redeem us.  The word, “redemption,” means to be bought with a price.  Jesus purchased us with His own blood.  (1Peter 1:18-19)
The Opportunity
After the crane lifted us to a height of 80 feet, the attendant swung open the door and he afforded us the opportunity to jump with the countdown, “3-2-1- JUMP.”   No one was ever forced.  There was no coercion or begging.  We watched others go before us.  Some of them jumped right away; others lingered for as much as fifteen minutes.  And some decided not to leap at all and were returned safely to the ground.  Everyone received the same invitation to jump but the opportunity was limited.  For those who did not jump, there was no refund.  The price had already been paid and there was no credit for another chance later.

The Gospel invitation is like that.  It is for NOW.   "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (2 Cor. 6:2).  God offers some people more time than others but everyone has an opportunity.  Nobody will ever miss Heaven because of God.  If a man dies in his sin and outside of God’s favor, it will be because he did not accept God's gift of salvation by faith.  The time will come when it will be too late.  There will be no second chance.

The Faith
Jumping from that cage was an act of complete trust.  But we had seen others go before us and we had heard their own accounts of their experiences.  Before we entered the cage, the attendants worked through a checklist of procedures to ensure that everything was right.  They selected the proper sized cord that corresponded to our weight.  Then they fastened the cord to our ankles with primary attachments and secondary attachments as a fail safe.  They visually examined every inch of the cords, as they passed it through their hands, for flaws, cuts, or breeches.  When they reached the end of the cord, they attached it to the cage with a primary attachment and a secondary backup. They told us everything they were doing as they were working through their checklist.  And every detail of the preparation was carefully observed and double checked by the attendant’s supervisor.

So the faith we placed in the equipment was not a foolish, ignorant kind of “hope so” faith.  Based on the experience and testimonies of others, the integrity of the equipment, and the qualifications of the operators, we had substantial evidence upon which to base our faith.   It was a “know so” faith.

I was fully convinced that the equipment would not fail.  But real faith requires action.  There’s an old story about a tightrope walker who walked a line across Niagara Falls.  When he reached the other side, he turned around and then pushed a wheelbarrow back across.  Then he turned to the crowd of observers and asked, “Who believes I can push this across with someone sitting in the wheelbarrow?”  

They all raised their hands.  Then he asked, “Who believes enough to get in the wheelbarrow and go with me?"

All the hands went down and no one would go. 

Christian faith is reasonable because the object of that faith is a reliable, trustworthy and the all-powerful God.  Many will be skeptical and disbelieve but He has proven Himself able and reliable.  If you want to get to the other side, you have to get in the wheelbarrow.

The Safety

I was called stupid, irresponsible, and foolish.  Some people also say that about my faith.   But if the object of our faith is sure and reliable, there is no need to fear.  We've all heard stories of fatal accidents.  Shortly after our jumps, a veteran bungee jumper fell several hundred feet to his death when he jumped from a hot air balloon.  He fastened his own ankle straps and checked his own equipment and when he was confident in his own preparations, He jumped.  But the problem was that no one had secured his cord to the gondola. 

People with great faith make deadly jumps all the time.  My grandmother was one.  She was a Christian Science practitioner and was not anchored in Truth.  When she got very sick, she exercised her faith and she died. 

The Thrill

It was indescribable, exhilarating, thrilling, and fulfilling.  But one can never fully appreciate it unless it is personally experienced.  And it cannot be experienced without a whole-hearted commitment.  You have to take that step of faith when the gate is open. 

The jump was incredible but before it was over, we stretched the cord to the limit and then there was the recoil.  Back up we flew and then down again several times until we finally stopped.  Then the crane operator slowly lowered us toward the waiting arms of the attendant who received us and gently lowered us to the landing pad.

We do not achieve perfection in this life.  Even Christians have their ups and downs.  We struggle with sins and we rejoice in victories. We mourn our losses and praise God for blessings.  Jesus said, "I am the Door; by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  John 10:9-10

And then finally, at the end of our lives we are safely delivered into the open arms of our Savior who takes us to our rest. 

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