Why do people like to skydive?
Why do people want to push themselves to the edge of death? It’s seems their goal is to look death in the face and scream, I’m not afraid of you.
Alissa came home from work recently and told me about a patient who is recovering from cataract surgery. This patient is 76 years young and her biggest burning question for Alissa, “When can I skydive again? I’m getting bored.”
She’s 76 and living life on the edge. I think we can all admire this lady for living her life dangerously. She isn’t allowing anything to hold her back from accomplishing her bucket list.
A few years ago, our staff went to an amusement park in Dallas called a Thrill Park. It is 5 different ways you can face the fear of heights.
I always knew I liked having my feet firmly on the ground. However, I didn’t know how severe my fear of heights was until this one particular night. I found myself agreeing to go up on this lift and free fall with the rest of the staff. You heard me right, free fall. I caved to the peer pressure and it nearly scared me to death.
A lift took us 180 feet in the air and 100 feet below us was a net. We put on a padded harness which protected all of our back from the impact of the net. When the lift had risen as high as it was going to go, one by one we would each get to experience the thrill of falling backwards. Thrill may be the wrong word, terror is probably more appropriate.
As we ascended for the first time, I started to get woozy. All of the blood drained from my face and I became white as a ghost. I felt like I was going to vomit. My knees were weak and I could hardly stand. As we reached the top, I started to make my way to the back of the line. I didn’t want any part of this craziness. There is a reason why God invented gravity. It’s so we could keep our feet on the ground.
Unfortunately, the operator saw my face and chose me to go first. All of my friends cheered me on and patted me on the back. It is difficult to not walk to your death while you have people cheering you on. The operator grabbed the front of my harness, clipped me in, and hoisted me over the opening in the platform. Dangling 200 feet in the air isn’t my definition of thrill, but there I was. The clip for the harness was in the front, which meant you couldn’t see the net coming. It was a free fall, backwards.
“On the count of three. Ready…one…two,” and he pulled the ripcord. I’d like to say I was angry with him for not getting to three before he hurled me to my death, but how could I? All I could think about was the fall. I screamed until I ran out of breath. Fortunately, for everyone with me, my breath only lasted about half of the descent.
It felt like an eternity and a few seconds, simultaneously. This is the climactic part of the story where you are wondering if I survived. Surprise! I crashed into the net, and was lowered to the ground. Still weak in the knees, I managed to meander my way off of the net so the lift could go back up and let the next person defy death.
The experience was incredible, and I’d like to think I could do it again. Maybe with a little less high pitch screaming and not being white as a ghost.
Why is there such a thing as a thrill park? Why do people pay top dollar to take these risks?
God created us to live dangerously. Not necessarily in the sense of jumping out of planes, climbing mountains, pushing the limits of our existence, but in the very real sense of living differently from those that don’t follow Jesus.
The problem with living differently from those that don’t follow Jesus is you may be made fun of, you may be mocked. People may question why you do what you do and why you believe what you believe. Living differently means not giving into the pressures to keep up with the Jones’s, comparing what we have, and being envious of what we don’t.
Living differently means not living the way people, who don’t follow Jesus, live. It’s taking the road less traveled and putting others before yourself. Living differently is counter-intuitive. It goes against what our culture has taught us, to look out for number one.
Jesus told us to love others, but it won’t be easy.
John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
And Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, told Timothy
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul also tells the Corinthians of the persecution that he faced.
This life as a Jesus follower wasn’t meant to be a safe one. You and I have been called to live life to the fullest and to live out our life dangerously in opposition to what society and those who don’t follow Jesus tell us.
A few weeks back my Pastor and friend, Justin Graves, spoke a message entitled “Tailgates and Sharpies.” The first part of his message, he talked about following someone in your car to a destination, you have to stay right on their tailgate. Otherwise, you may get left behind. He mentioned how doing so may feel uncomfortable because you do things you wouldn’t normally do, i.e. speed, go through red lights, etc.
I talked to Justin afterwards about his message and he said there was a part he had in his notes, but couldn’t get to it. He said, “Following Jesus isn’t meant to be comfortable. As a follower of Jesus, you may do things you wouldn’t normally do. We have a tendency to only do what we feel comfortable doing, but God may be leading you to an uncomfortable season.”
When we live this life as a Jesus follower, we are either all in or not at all. There is no middle ground. You’ve got to be willing to live dangerously. We have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone so we can truly follow.
What does living dangerously look like?
It’s not jumping out of a plane at 76 or free falling 100 feet, but it is making the most of every moment we have to share the love of Jesus with those around us. God may be leading us to start something new, to do something we never thought we’d ever do. Living dangerously is following those leadings and believing that God is with us even when we can’t see Him.
The dangerous life is the life that always takes the path less traveled. It’s putting others needs and comfort before our own.
When our thoughts become more about what we can do for others, than what they can do for us…that’s living dangerously.