Staying Confident Through Nosedives

Have you ever skydived?  I haven’t.  I always thought it pretty silly to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

But still…

I’ve read testimonies that it’s like you’re a bird floating on a cushion of air.  I’ve seen people use the word “exhilarating.”

Some say that when you’re freefalling after the jump you have a sensation overload.  That it’s loud, fast and amazing.  And then when you pull the parachute cord the ride turns into feelings of calmness and relaxation.

People say it’s one of the best ways to see the world.  And I actually can imagine that – if you keep your eyes open!

Others say its the ultimate adrenaline rush.  You feel the air swooshing by, yet you feel free.  You feel weightless.  You see the beauty of God’s creation in a way you’d never seen before except in picture books.

And when you make that perfect landing?  You just can’t wait to go back up again.

But for me?

I think about the movies where I see someone pulling the parachute cord and their whole body gets yanked upward drastically as the parachute fills with air.  I think about how jarring that would be – how you might feel a little discombobulated.

Since I suffer from motion sickness, I wonder if I would suddenly throw up.  I know there have been times on rollercoasters (especially as I’m getting older) that I certainly have felt close to doing so as the coaster rises, falls & goes over all the loop-do-loops.

Isaiah 51_3And, if I were to throw up, would my vomit disintegrate before it hits the earth’s floor?  I know I certainly don’t like it when a bird decides to make a mess on my head – how much worse an adult who lost her cookies that suddenly appears from nowhere in the sky and lands smack-dab on you.

I also worry I might land wrong.  I could break a leg or get caught up in a tree!  Yes, I know you’d be jumping with a professional at first, but still…

Some of you probably remember the old medic-alert commercial years ago where the lady cries as she’s laying on the floor, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  I think that would probably be me.  My husband will be the first to tell you I’m not the most coordinated person in the world.  I even have trouble keeping the players in a videogame moving straight!

But the bottom line?  It’s all a matter of perspective.

I feel like my walk with the Lord is often the way I think of skydiving.  He tells me to take a step forward, and I do.  And everything goes great for awhile.  Then suddenly the bottom drops out and I find myself doing a nosedive like James Bond if he needed to rescue a damsel-in-distress who had been pushed out of an airplane without a parachute.  He’d be leaping out of the plane and streamlining his body down to where she was helplessly flailing.

Then I start questioning God, and start questioning myself.  Why did I think I could do this anyway?

But did you know that just like the James-Bond-type nosedivers who jump out of planes to rescue someone grabs on tightly to the falling person – so our Heavenly Father rushes right to our side, and grabs ahold of us firmly when we feel like we’re tumbling into never-never land.

…………………………..

After I surrendered to the Lord many years ago I was privileged to join a year-long mentor group with a small group of ladies.  After the year was complete I was asked to facilitate a table for a large Bible study group.

I was terrified those first couple of weeks, because of course it seemed as though there was always that one person at my table who would start to side-track the conversation, making me struggle to keep the group going in the right direction.

However after awhile I began to feel more confident; and came to love the ladies God placed with me dearly – whoever they were!  It was such a privilege.

One semester the women’s ministry department decided to try something new.  Instead of just having one large Bible study group, they were going to offer numerous studies on different topics.

The leadership knew my testimony.  I had previously shared how growing up I was far from God, and had delved deeply into alcohol and drugs – as well as other things.

So the sweet godly lady who was in charge of coordinating all the studies approached me one day and asked me to pray about leading – all by myself – a Bible study on the book Bad Girls of the Bible, written by Liz Curtis Higgs.  (You can read more about this venture, as well as other lessons I learned through this, in my previous post Bad Girl Linda.)

She jokingly said, “Who better to lead a study on bad girls, then a previous bad girl herself?”

I was told I had the freedom to lead the group however I liked, formatting it in any way that I felt led to.

I was shocked, scared and … intrigued.

I prayed about it for a few days, and decided to take the plunge.  I felt it was the next step in my faith walk.

However, as the days passed before the groups started, I really began to feel stressed.  What had I done?  I don’t know how to do this!

Add a headingMy nervousness gave way to total feelings of inadequacy and feelings of hurt when only a couple women signed up for the study.  Some of the other groups were full!  Did people just not like me?

All sorts of confused notions swirled through my head.  Any peace that I may have previously received from my Father disintegrated as I began to bury my head in the sand.

The day arrived.  The first and second weeks only three gals showed up, the third week just two.  The following week no one came.

I sat in my empty room that morning trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.  Finally I got up and wandered to stand in the doorway of one of the busy Bible studies, where the precious lady who was the coordinator saw me and pulled me out into the hallway.

Of course she knew how the attendance had been for my group, as she’d been watching all the groups since the startup.

She looked at me with such kindness and love, and said, “You know, it’s okay.  I think it’s best to just closeout your study, and then check and see if your gals might be interested in joining a different group.”

The tears came gushing out.  I was a loser…

……………………………

But did you know that God is our Redeemer?  And that He never wastes what we go through?

Not long after that, our family moved to another state, and we found a great church home.  One of the first things I was interested in after I got to know some of the ladies was to find out about Bible studies.

I was informed there was only one, on a weekday morning at the church.

My heart grieved for all the ladies who were in the workforce – they had no studies offered!  I gathered a few gals I had met, and asked them to pray.

The answer?  I was to start one in the evenings!

Our loving Father was so faithful to me.  He gave me favor with the ladies as I met with them week after week.  God stretched me and refined me all through that process, even through the tears and insecurities I sometimes felt.  However quite frankly I’m fairly certain that if I hadn’t gone through my sandpapering-time at our previous church I never would’ve grown to the point I had matured to.

And then?  A couple years into all that one of the directors at the church asked me to teach leadership classes to members of the congregation!

Isaiah 41_10Psalm 37:3-7 says we’re to trust our Lord, delight ourselves in Him, and commit everything to Him.  We need to sit and be patient!  And then, when the time is right, He will give us the desires of our hearts – He’ll redeem us!

The enemy (as well as our own human minds) likes to play havoc with us.  But God’s purposes and plans always prevail.  We must keep trusting Him.

It would’ve been very easy for me after that solo “Bad Girls” venture to come to the conclusion that since it didn’t work out that time, it was not for me –  period.  But as much as it crushed my ego, inside I knew it was the path my Father wanted me to take.

Has it been easy since then – no way!  There have been many moments when things haven’t gone as planned, and I’ve questioned just what I was supposed to do.  There have been times which threatened to side-swipe me from the path God’s had me on.  People’s words and actions can sometimes cause you to feel like you’re taking that nosedive out of the airplane without a parachute.

But then you cry out, “Father, help me!’  And suddenly you feel His all-encompassing arms of security grab ahold of you tightly, and He turns the darkness and fear you’ve been encased in to peacefulness and calmness (Psalm 18:28).

Keep going, friends!


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