Skydiving is something that I hope I never have to do. For many people, it’s on their bucket list, something they want to check off while they’re on this earth. But not me. I don’t really even like flying, let along leaping from a plane aloft. No thank you.
This week I was listening to a testimony of an Ohio athlete, and she compared following Jesus to skydiving. My mind quickly began processing this idea – one thing I very much love (Jesus), paired with something else that at the very least I have no interest in, and at greatest, terrifies me beyond reason. I don’t want them to be the same!
But, here’s the thing – she’s right. Following Jesus is in some ways like leaping from a plane because it takes faith. Faith that the parachute will open. Faith that Jesus will rescue you.
Sometimes we let the bad things that happen to us in life convince us that Jesus has allowed our parachute not to open, and that he’s allowed us to spiral towards the ground and go splat. Pain. Destruction. Ruin. Rejection. Illness. Disability. Death.
But the more life I experience, the more I realize that Jesus never lets that happen. In fact, sometimes the very awful things that we walk through are the parachute of his rescue. You see, Jesus is not so much concerned with our comfort and our happiness; he’s concerned with our character and with our eternity. And he uses every single difficulty that we encounter on this earth to redeem and rescue our souls.
The story of Joseph is a testament to this truth. I cannot imagine literally being sold off by my brothers as a slave to a foreign nation. (Thanks for never doing that, bro!) I cannot imagine being wrongly accused of so much and imprisoned for years because of it. Oh, the injustice! Why is Joseph not an angry and cynical being?! After all the years of Joseph’s struggle, when he finally reconciles with his brothers, he says this:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph had to have felt like his life was one failed parachute moment after another! Yet he chose to see the good that God was doing in the midst of all of it.
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism, I very much felt like my parachute had not opened, like God had not come through for me. But as I have walked this journey with her, I can agree with Joseph, that “God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,” and maybe even I would go so far as to say for “the saving of many lives.” Sophie’s disability has opened doors for me to ministry that I never would have imagined for myself. In many ways, I am who I am because of who she is, and I am doing what I’m doing because of her life and how God is using all of that to shape me. That doesn’t make it an easy journey, but then, I don’t think easy is really the point.
I’m honestly not sure what kind of a person I would be if it wasn’t for my difficult life experiences. In every moment that we feel like we are spiraling toward the ground, and the parachute isn’t going to open, we have a choice. We can choose cynicism, anger, fear, doubt. Or we can choose trust. We can choose faith. We can stand on the promise that God is working for our good, even when it is impossibly difficult to see it. And not just for our good, but for his bigger picture good, for his story, for “the saving of many lives.”