Trusting God is not always easy. I know. Over the years, there have been multiple times when it feels like trusting God is equivalent to walking to the edge of a cliff indeterminably high above the ground … and diving off. Diving off expecting that God is somewhere between you and the ground, ready to catch you, but you not knowing with any certainty how far you have to fall first. Or in the remote recesses of your mind, not knowing without a doubt that He’ll really, really catch you. Taking that plunge of faith can be harrowing, to say the least.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been unemployed. It was somewhat a welcomed change in that I was commuting 600 miles a week. But it’s still not having a job. In practical terms I can think of few ways to better serve as lessons in trusting God as when we lose a job, and ask Him to provide another. Fortunately, several opportunities have bubbled up over the past number of months and as a family we’ve felt blessed to know that perhaps economic solid ground is in the not-too-distant future. With that said, there is a very bumpy, curvy, pockmarked road one must traverse in navigating a job search, and many times we’ve struggled with the on-again, off-again nature of the process, as well as discerning which opportunities were the right ones to pursue. We’ve prayed for weeks and weeks that God would provide a job and that He would give us clarity on which were the right ones for us.
At the end of the day, however, we just had to take the plunge and jump off the cliff into His waiting hands … somewhere between the top and the bottom.
I was reminded of this fact not just by our recent circumstances, but also as I read the past couple weeks through the Psalms and Proverbs … specifically Psalms 70 – 81 and Proverbs 12 and 13. In particular, Psalms 77:10-15 …
And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
The sentiments expressed by Asaph, the author of Psalms 77, is similar to what I’ve felt many times before I recognized the need to “take the plunge” of faith in God. That is, the belief that God is disinterested, or absent, or just perhaps against us somehow. This is what we’d call a “woe is me” mentality. I’ve been there … I’ve been there even recently. I’m not saying getting to this place in some of our circumstances is unreasonable … quite the opposite. Life can dish out some pretty sketchy situations … losing jobs, bad medical diagnoses, financial strife and the like. But just like Asaph writes, often we come back to a recognition that can literally transform the entire mindset we bring. It’s when we really, truly remember who God is, and what God’s done. Not just what He’s done for us, but what He’s done for His people throughout history. It’s at those times when we can take the plunge.
That plunge is the literally jumping off point. Jumping off a cliff of faith. Look, no one in their right mind would knowingly jump off a cliff unless they’re somehow assured of a safe landing. The same is true when we exercise “taking the plunge” faith with God. We’re not jumping off into an abyss … we’re jumping off with a knowledge, assurance, and security that there’s a safe landing below. Knowing that there’s a safe landing is not a lack of faith, however, it’s an expression of it. We still have to take that first step, the one that doesn’t allow us to see clearly that which is going to catch us at the bottom. It’s that which doesn’t allow us to know just how far we have to fall to be caught. We are indeed expressing our faith in taking the plunge, but it’s still a fearsome plunge.
And this is where we can derive our application on this point. To my mind, in life, in expressing our faith, the benefit and the growth from taking the plunge isn’t so much in the being caught at the bottom somewhere, it’s in the plunge itself. Why? Because as we express that faith at the jumping off point, it increases our confidence and propensity in jumping off somewhere down the road. Life is a series of opportunities to take the plunge. We derive zero exhilaration by not jumping. All the fun comes in the jumping and the satisfaction comes in the landing. But the more we recognize and understand that we’re caught … every single time … the more likely we’ll be to jump again regardless of how high up we jump from, and regardless of how far the drop is until we’re caught. And that makes jumping all the more fulfilling.
This is especially true when we apply this metaphor to a life lived relying on God. God NEVER ceases to catch us when we take the plunge. No matter how high we jump, no matter how scary the fall, now matter how long the descent, He catches us 100 percent of the time. But note, God can’t catch us unless we take the plunge. If we stay at the edge of the cliff, there’s no plunge, and hence no way for God to demonstrate his faithfulness in response to our stepping off.
So … let’s ask God to show us the places in our lives where we have to choose to take the plunge. Is it in our job searches or work life? Is it in our finances or generosity? Is it in serving others we’d otherwise look past and ignore? Or is it in our self-fulfillment and self-security versus fulfillment and security that comes from God?
Note, He’s not expecting us to be foolish, but faithful. I’m not advocating saying “God, I’m going to take the step of faith – take the plunge – and buy a $5 million house and expect you in faith to provide me the money to afford it.” Of course, God CAN do that, but that’s frivolity, not faithfulness. We’re best off taking the plunge from smaller cliffs and working our way up to larger ones if we’ve never taken the plunge before. It’s also important to make sure we listen for God’s voice at the bottom before we take the plunge. If we really seek His guidance, He’ll provide it, and we’ll know that we can take the plunge and have assurance that He’ll catch us, no matter how far we have to fall first.
Soli Deo gloria!