Friday, August 29, 2008


"Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity."
–Edward Abbey

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leap of Faith

As I turned 40 over the summer, I wanted to do something adventurous to celebrate. So I decided to jump out of an airplane. (Strapped to an instructor, that is – I wasn’t so adventurous as to try it alone.) Tandem skydiving is, quite literally, a leap of faith – faith in the straps that secure two jumpers together; faith in the parachute; faith in the instructor to open it.

Not surprisingly, there's an element of fear for most first-time skydivers. I was certainly no exception – I had plenty of butterflies during the long climb up to 10,500 feet. But the real gravity of the situation (pardon the pun) hit me when the door was pushed open, cold air came rushing in, and the jumper who had been seated next to me for the past half-hour suddenly disappeared. At that point, there was no turning back, so out the door we went.

I’ve never experienced something so startling as those first few seconds of freefall. One moment I was seated on a relatively stable platform; the next, I was tumbling through nothingness. Obviously I lived to tell of the experience, and I’m happy to report it was an exhilarating one. (Never mind that I almost got sick after the chute opened, and my watch fell off at 3,000 feet.)

Now I'm preparing for another adventure of faith, one that is in many ways just as intense as the momentary fright and thrill of leaping from an airplane two miles above the ground. Lord willing, on October 17 I will be leaving for nine weeks in South Africa to work as a volunteer with a Christian ministry called Living Hope Community Centre, and its sister ministry, Living Grace.

As with leaping into thin air, this venture brings a number of unknowns. During the first two weeks, I will be with a mission team from my home church, LowCountry Community. But after they return home, will I feel alone? Will I be accepted by the people of another culture? Will I be effective in my work? As this opportunity has unfolded, every detail has taken care of and every need met, so I truly believe that God has orchestrated it. But still – having never lived in a foreign country for an extended period of time, I can’t help feeling a bit anxious. Of course, that’s why God calls us to faith, which the writer of Hebrews defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

So I will step out again, with faith in the Lord of all creation. I do not physically see Him, but my hope is in Him and I am certain He is with me. Stay tuned as this adventure progresses – the latest in the Great Adventure that God is leading me on.

Note: A version of this post will appear in the October issue of Reach Out Columbia!, a Columbia, SC-based magazine that I write a monthly column for. Check out ROC at