"Outside the will of God, there's nothing I want. Inside the will of God there's nothing I fear."
I remember this moment as if it were yesterday. I was 20 years old, working on summer staff for JH Ranch, who hosts one of the finest youth leadership programs in the country. We were on a staff retreat, enjoying some much needed rest before the whirlwind of summer activities began, floating down the Klamath River in kayaks and inner tubes. It was a beautiful summer's day. Crisp mountain air. The sun painted the sky with shades of gold, blushing pinks, stunning displays of blue with just a touch of orange. The water was brisk-having only recently melted from the snow-caped mountains in the distance.
There was a sense of youthfulness and adventure that day.
After kayaking for hours, a few of us stopped to stretch our legs. The veterans, who had served on summer staff many times before, lead us to a rock formation that was safe enough to jump- but provided enough of a challenge for those thrill seekers among us. It didn't take long for them to convince me to join the group of those who would be jumping. After all, it didn't look that high- and if we were in any significant danger, the full-time staff would have never consented and allowed us to do such a thing. So I made a calculated decision and set off with the others.
But as my perspective changed with the higher I climbed, I grew fearful. My pulse quickened. My heart began to beat violently inside my chest. My palms were sweaty and I started to hyperventilate. As I looked over the edge of the cliff and down at the gentle rapids below me- I froze. While I knew that it was much safer for me to jump, I wanted desperately to abort my feeble attempt at doing something brave- something completely unlike my character- and climb back down. Only- my new friends wouldn't allow me to do such a thing. They knew I was afraid- but they also knew what I would be missing had I turned around and climbed back down the side of the mountain to the safety of my kayak. And so, with great patience, and a lot of encouragement, the finally coaxed me back to the edge of the cliff.
I closed my eyes, attempting to suppress the wave of nausea that threatened to overcome me as I took a few deep breaths, and jumped.
It was exhilarating.
In the few seconds I was suspended in mid-air... I was free.
Free from the fear that threatened to rob me of that moment. Free from all worry and anxiety. It did not matter at that moment who I thought I was in the eyes of my peers. I was not concerned with the latest style or fashion trends. World War III could have started, but in that moment- in those few precious seconds- I didn't care.
I was free-falling.
I think about that day often.
I envy that girl. She did not succumb to her fear. She took a risk... and jumped.
There is more at stake in my life these days. I am now a wife- and a mother. I have a mortgage and responsibilities. Others are affected by my decisions and so often I write off any risk because I do not want to bring harm to those I love. But that's just it- what if by not taking a risk I am actually causing them more harm in the long run, because I am outside of the will of God?
God is calling me follow after Him with the same reckless abandonment I displayed that summer's day on the river many years ago. Only this time, the cliff I am standing on is metaphorical, and the river below- unknown. I still feel that uneasiness in my stomach- that mixture of excitement, fear and nausea all rolled into one. I know what God wants of me, but I am afraid. Yet, the question remains-will I follow and obey despite my fear, knowing that once I am in the center of God's will for my life that that same fear will likely dissipate? Or do I stay where I am because that is what is comfortable? What is "safe?"
The Lord does not always call us to what is safe. And like those seasoned veterans, He knows what I will be missing if I do not jump. He is patiently coaxing me onto the edge, knowing full well that the waters below are in fact, His own Everlasting Arms- the safest place I could ever be.