A fourteen year old girl goes hiking with her friends. They explore parts of northern Arizona and discover a creek with a box canyon. You know the type, where water gathers in various spaces to make swimming holes for adventurous teens.
Once they discover the canyon, kids begin crawling and jumping into its small 9 x 9 foot pool of water. For safety, one person does a test dive to decide its depth, easily 10 feet or more.
They begin jumping off an 8 foot cliff into the pool and shouting their enthusiasm. Soon, this minor adrenaline moment doesn’t satisfy. What next?
Eyes venture higher. A twenty-foot cliff. One by one the teens burst off the higher rock into the chilly pool below. They invite others to join. “Come on!” they say, “You can do it!”
Eventually the teens all venture up to higher ground. But what about that one 14-year-old girl?
The whole time, she timidly explored her personal unknown. She has no hiking experience. She internally grins at her moments of bravery, no one knowing her challenge.
She wears contacts. For this journey, she knew it would be unwise to wear them. However, insecurity required her to leave the glasses at home. She can barely see.
Everything dances before her in shapes and shadows. She checks out the pool for herself, holding her breath and forcing her body down as far as possible, to find its depth. She doesn’t touch bottom. It’s deep.
After an hour of hearing the laughter and splashes, she slowly creeps to the low cliff, which is already higher than she’s ever jumped. Blindly trusting friends and water, she leaps. Yes!
It’s all she ever hoped for! The thrill of the leap, the cool of the water, the enjoyment of her friends. She contentedly remains at the lower cliff exalting in her moments of courage. But then she hears the call.
“Come on!” they say, “You can do it!”
Are they crazy? This has already been the biggest adventure of her life, why mess with that? Why risk more?
Her friends tell her she’d feel bad if she left and never accomplished this goal. She doubts them.
She cannot even see the cliff from which they’ve jumped. Though it stands only a few feet from her current location, her cloudy eyes mask its location. She hears the shouts and looks up knowing it’s much more than she’s ever done. But she has no image to grasp.
Because of peer pressure and the clear enjoyment of others, she decides to hike to the other side of the cliff, to move upward. She’ll think about leaping. Maybe.
She crosses the creek and climbs up the trail to the higher cliff site. The air feels different. The breeze pushes more. She steps out to look over this daunting precipice. Her heart thunders in her chest. She feel exposed and vulnerable.
She cannot see the pool. To her eyes, it’s a giant, fuzzy, open space. Her brain knows the water would catch her as it caught her friends, but her eyes don’t believe. She shakes.
The teens encourage their fearful friend, they remind her of their success. She remains frozen glaring into emptiness, dreaming of success but nailed to the ground with fear. What if she’s the one who misses the pool? What if she simply goes splat on the rocks?
When people speak of a leap of faith, they forget the reason we don’t easily leap. They fail to remember our fear of going splat. Trusting in the unseen God of the Bible can feel like jumping off a cliff into the unknown, but He has proved Himself over and over, and like the water below, His depth is capable of catching us when we imagine our rocky doom.
What happened to that young teen?
After an hour of staring, imagining and fearing, she moved forward. Into the air blindly, she left the safety of the cliff. Less like a leap and more like a step, she found herself midair, falling. As she flew through the air, still the fears grabbed at her heart, but the water caught her as smoothly as a catcher at home plate. She did it!
And so can you.
Whatever your leap is, whatever splat you fear, the Living Water wants to catch, comfort and refresh you. May you know His comfort and care in the midst of your struggle.
“Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;” Psalm 86:2
I wrote a guest post on this topic in seven short sentences, click here to read for yourself.
My choice today:
Jump into the arms of Jesus when fear attempts to capture my heart.
- Go ahead, bite the shark
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- Dance shirtless on a hill