Standing at the top of a rocky cliff with the deep, blue, ocean water beneath, was no guarantee that I was going to jump. Witnessing a steady flow of other teenagers fearlessly leaping into the ocean below was no guarantee that I was going to jump. People treading water below reassuring the depths of the water, the safety of the jump, and using their best motivational speaker “You can do this” discourse, was no guarantee that I was going to jump. I was scared. Fear of jumping had me stymied and frozen. I wanted to jump. I love adventure, but I had fear.
After an hour I mustered up the courage and jumped, and failed miserably at the landing. Failed. On decent one leg went east, the other leg went west, and the water tension slapped my skin with painful punches that took several minutes of floating in order to fully recover. The pain from my botched finish cured my adventurous spirit. I was never going to cliff dive again however, the take away was that I now knew how to master landing.
Several years later I returned to a smaller cliff where my own children were leaping into a lake, giggling on decent and returning to the jump pad as if it were an empty ride at Disneyland. As they coaxed and begged me to jump the image I had from my previous cliff jumping experience heightened my anxiety, but the lesson learned from that experience stifled my fear almost immediately. Instead of dismissing the pleas, I succumbed and landed successfully returning several times to dive.
Being brave is hard. Taking another chance on an already failed experience may mean repeated failure, but modeling brave behavior and trying again after failing once or one hundred times, speaks of persistence and all things good.
In the Bible there is a story about a brave boy named David. While soldiers twice his age ran away in fear of facing the giant, David took him on and succeeded. He not only trusted his instincts and the lessons he learned from previous failures and triumphs, but David trusted God’s faithfulness and embraced God’s power and ability to do more through him than he was able to do on his own. David succeeded. The giant was slain. David’s team won, and his brave behavior inspired the frail army who stood behind him trembling, shocked an amazed at the tenacity, and gumption of such a small boy. Failure didn’t intimidate David. It propelled him. David was brave.
Although I don’t plan on jumping off cliffs, slaying giants, or leaping out of a speeding airplane, I do know that I will inevitably be put in situations where I am called on to trust God, take a leap of faith, experience uncomfortable circumstances, and be brave. When that time comes, I will jump.