It’s Saturday morning, September second, and we’re stepping into a little clearing in a woodsy area of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. We behold before us a flat-topped, twenty-foot telephone pole with a ladder set against it, its top strapped to the pole’s waist. This is it: The Leap of Faith. My heart starts beating faster.
We have spent our time in a variety of team-building exercises from making shapes with a rope while blindfolded to helping each other climb over a wall. We’ve been having fun, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking about the moment I’ll have to climb to the top of this pole and jump off. I have been dreading this since I knew it was a thing Abante did. I don’t truly believe I will be able to jump when my turn comes due to my fear of heights, but somehow I’ll have to — this much I know. If I wanted to hold onto my fears, I wouldn’t have joined Abante.
Our Fearless Leader, Diana, tackles the pole first. We watch her get her harness clipped to the pulley rope so we can lower her down when she jumps off. She completes the task without trouble. Immediately, the knot in my stomach tightens. Josh is already getting in the second harness to go next, and I know I need to volunteer to go after him before I lose my nerve. I think Josh sets a record time with his run, making it look more like leaping from the pinnacle of a stepstool.
My hands feel sweaty as I get my harness situated and stand at the base of the ladder. Trying not to think about what I’m doing, I climb as quickly as I can. The ladder tips and rocks against the pole slightly, but I continue to climb. My Abante family calls encouraging things from the ground as I get to the top of the ladder and begin to haul myself the rest of the way up by the giant staples in the pole. A few steps and the flat end of the pole is below my waist.
“Don’t look down!” someone calls.
Bless you. I latch onto the advice, not sure why I haven’t thought of it. Of course, you shouldn’t look down. Of course.
The pole gives a little wobble and suddenly I have no idea why I thought jumping off would be the hard part because now it’s all I want to do. I’m almost there though. I just need to set my left foot on the top of the pole and step up on it . . . without holding onto anything with my hands.
My family is still calling out instructions and encouragement, but I tune them out. I’m grateful for their support, but it’s not about them anymore. I am here to meet with One greater. It’s His help I need to get to the top; I know I will never make it any other way. I stare straight ahead into the treetops – they’re lovely and green with leaves – and inch my left foot closer to the top of the pole, dragging it up the side. Finally, I get it to the top, and at last I stand up.
The pole is wobbling under my feet. I’m crazy; this is crazy – but I’m here. I breathe in and my heart is filled with peace. I don’t hear the people below me. In the treetops, I am alone but alone with God, so I am not by myself. I can hear His whisper up here, gliding through the boughs and into my heart. He’s not saying anything, but rather breathing peace and security over me, into me. Here, twenty feet in the air, balancing on a platform no larger than my feet, with nothing solid to hold or lean on, I am safe. Here, with the presence of God all around me, I am not afraid to fall.
So I leap in faith; faith that my team will lower me to the ground safely, and faith that God will never let me go. I land on the ground feeling like I can take on the world.
What is it that you fear? And how does the size of your fear compare to the size of your faith? I encourage you to stop refusing to do what God asks because you’re afraid. Do what scares you. Face your fears and step out onto the sea, because that may just be where Jesus is.