I recently stumbled across this quote from Adam Grant, “You don’t have to wait for fear to fade before you take the leap. Taking the leap is how you conquer fear.” This is one of the most challenging truths that exists. It is probably also one that is followed the least! Leaps of faith take courage that usually has to be ‘worked up’ toward.
I see leaps of faith as steps in a process. First, you must build the courage. Then you make the decision and jump. Then you hang midair and experience moments of imagining how you will land. Then you land with thanksgiving, ready to move forward from your new spot.
Building courage for a leap of faith requires high trust levels in God. What makes this difficult is that God does not necessarily join us for a daily workout with a clipboard and whistle to help us build our trust muscle. Growing in trust comes with growth in relationship. After 31 years of marriage and another 14 of knowing one another, Diane and I trust each other without hesitation. Each knows the other well. Although I first began my journey with Christ at age 10, I didn’t learn to fully trust God with my life until the build-up to my ministry call some 20 years later.
It took a lot of guts to finally respond in the face of instant resistance from the church where we were. This is the 2nd step--make the decision and jump! Our church was quite fundamentalist in nature and did not believe for a minute that God could call a divorced man into ministry. Bless their hearts! But God’s call was certain and was haunting me because it was so obvious. The leap I took was against headwinds of doubt, but I took it anyway because it was my decision to make for God and nobody else's.
Hanging in the air anticipating your landing is an often overlooked 3rd step. When I was young and athletic (neither title fits any more and hasn’t for some time now), basketball was my thing. Even though I was only 5’10” with scrawny, skinny legs, I could jump high enough to nearly dunk the ball. I'll pause here while you giggle. A vidid memory I have is that I could jump so high that I had time to look down on my way back to Mother Earth. I always jumped higher than I thought I could. Anticipating where and how I would land was exciting because it also reminded me of just how high I had leapt.
In faith, we trust God for the landing even when we don’t know exactly how or where it will happen. It can bring on a new round of fear, but this is often overcome with excited anticipation of the next step. Hanging in the air for that brief moment requires the trust you have been building alongside a good dose of patience as you prepare for the landing. You can’t wait for the process to finish so you can begin taking those new steps forward.
Landing is pure joy because you feel as if you are in the center of God’s will. It is challenging to put into words exactly how this feels. There is both calm peace and agitated joy. You want to fall on your knees and pray with thanksgiving and simultaneously dance like the Footloose guy because you have been freed for the joyful next steps. You reflect on how you hurled yourself forward in faith and how much you trusted God. You smirk at the idea that it took you awhile to actually take the leap. Your fear is a distant memory. And you rejoice with God because you have landed and have a front row seat while the Holy Spirit “makes everything new” right in front of your eyes.
Now you are ready for the next step, and you take it with joy and confidence knowing you are not walking alone.
What risk do you feel God is calling you to take?
What is preventing you from following through?
What do you have to lose?
What do you have to gain?
Who can help encourage you to faithfully follow God's lead?
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