Have you ever been sky-diving? Nah, me neither. Basically because I’m a big chicken. Don’t get me wrong. I love to fly! My favorite part of any flight is the take-off and the landing. I always position myself near the wings just so I can watch the braking action upon landing. It’s a huge rush to hear the engines strain against the metal, to feel the halting of the immense beast mid flight, to know that thousands of pounds of metal, circuitry and humanity are hovering perilously, and miraculously over the earth. But the thought of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane??? The mind reels. First of all, I’m a big girl…what if the parachute doesn’t deploy? What if it does, but then a freakish accident causes the parachute to rip and ker-splat!? What if I have a heart attack mid fall? What if, as I’m about to step out of the plane, I trip (I do that alot – thank you astigmatism and failed depth perception), bang my head against the door, am knocked unconscious as I tumble out of the plane, and am unable to pull the rip cord? All of these scenarios end with me plummeting to my untimely and gruesome death.
So what’s the point of this diatribe? Well, while I would like to say that the preceding ramblings were contrived, I must confess that these are, in fact, my actual thoughts about the topic. I know, scary – right? Unfortunately, this mode of thinking is not confined to the subject of sky-diving. I have what I like to call “Analysis Paralysis.” I over think things. If there’s a “What if?” question to ponder, you can bet I’ve thought about it from every angle. Normally, you might say that thinking something through is a good thing, but the fact is it is agonizing. Think of the movie “War Games.” In the final act of the movie, Matthew Broderick‘s character stumps an über-computer intent on destroying the world. He does this by proposing a game of tic-tac-toe. It analyzes and computes, computes and analyzes, but it ultimately DOES nothing! As we all know, that game is essentially unwinnable. Now imagine the same situation in a real-life application. The results are devastating. The fear of making a mistake or wrong move is crippling.
Everyday decisions are easy. What should I wear to work? Done. Should I take a walk around the neighborhood, or at the park? Cake!! Should I cut my hair off or let it grow? It’s just hair! Those decisions are easy to make because they only affect me. I don’t know about you, but I get bogged down with cerebral gymnastics when the choices before me have more impact on those around me, or better yet if the impact is eternal.
Then I can’t move !!!!!!!!!!
Do you ever experience the same thing? If “Analysis Paralysis” isn’t the answer (and it isn’t!), then what do we do? How do we move past the debilitating fear of making a wrong choice? A better “what if?” question to ask is “What if I make a mistake?” What’s the worst case scenario? Will the world come to a screeching halt if I screw up? Ummm, NO! (Not unless [like the aforementioned über-computer] I’m on THE BUTTON, then – ok, yeah, maybe…) The Bible has a lot to say about the subject of worry, anxiety and fear:
“Fear nothing–not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day.”
“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.”
“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”
“Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life–body and soul–in his hands.”
A choice stands before me now. Not one of those easy decisions; this one is a life-altering, rock-my-world, eternal affecting decision. My human inclination is to immediately go into analysis mode. To agonize over the “What if’s?” Suddenly, I’m up in that airplane again. The shock of rushing wind assaults my face as the bay doors of the fusilage open to reveal the chasm between me and the earth. I hear a voice urging me to jump, to trust, to take that first step. But there’s something else…I’m not alone. I have a tandem jumper. I am attached to the master jumper. He holds my life in his hands – literally and figuratively. I can stand, immobilized by all the potential outcomes. . .or I can sit back into the harness, tuck my chin and trust my partner. Maybe all my fears will be realized. Or maybe — just maybe, taking a risk will allow me to experience something more amazing than anything I have ever done before. Maybe the decision’s not so hard after all.
“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgment–is one not yet fully formed in love.”
—1 JOHN 4:18
My tandem partner is Christ – my bridegroom. He doesn’t expect me to make the jump alone, He loves me!! He’s invested in my success, and along the way (because He loves me), He wants me to enjoy the view! To live an abundant life! In the final analysis, I can’t make a wrong choice when I rest securely in the grip of the Master. I feel His arms around me, and I am safe. He speaks and I hear Him say “Jump!” Even in the face of the great unknown, I can easily and eagerly leap forward as I hear myself screaming into the wind; “Geronimooooooooo!”