In 1998 I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Well, at least the skydiving company told me it was a perfectly good airplane, but once we left the ground and headed for 10,000 ft elevation, I started to have my doubts.
It was a small plane, and only the pilot actually had a seat. I sat on the floor in the back of the plane, in front of and strapped to my tandem instructor Dem (from Australia). The only other person in the plane was the photographer who took both still photos and a video of my jump. The plane seemed a bit rickety to me, but I’m no expert on small aircraft.
Now you might be wondering what would possess a young woman, a wife and the mother of a 3-year-old boy, to jump out of an airplane. Well, it happened like this. Since I was very young I have been extremely afraid of water. I don’t like to go out on boats and I definitely don’t care for swimming. I have had panic attacks in the deep end of a pool and absolutely refused to go in a boat on the ocean. (I have made one exception to this in recent years, but that’s a whole other story.)
Because of this phobia, my husband would tease me and call me chicken. My standard reply was, “I’m not chicken, I just don’t like water. To prove it, I’d parachute out of an airplane, as long as it isn’t over water.” Well, guess what I got for my Christmas in 1997? Yep, a tandem skydiving adventure. I didn’t actually go on the adventure until the following September as it took me a while to muster up the courage. (Okay, maybe I was a little bit chicken.)
You might also be wondering why I am writing about it now, and what it has to do with the theme of my blog, so I’ll tell you.
On the morning of my jump, I was pacing around the house, feeling a bit nervous. My dog Bette could tell and she started pacing with me. My husband and I got in the car to head to the airfield where the skydiving company was located, and on the drive down I kept staring out the window and drumming my fingers on the armrest on the door. The “training” took all of five minutes; I learned that Dem had packed the chute, what an altimeter was, and that Dem would pull the ripcord when we were at a certain altitude (which he would point out to me on his wrist altimeter). That was it. Now I was really nervous.
I kissed my husband goodbye and climbed into the aforementioned perfectly good airplane and we took off. Suddenly, all my nervousness was gone. I felt a peace come over me that I can only explain as having come directly from God. I thought to myself, “Well, I either land safely on the ground or I meet Jesus face-to-face today.” Whatever happened, everything was going to be okay.
I suppose I should have given a bit more thought to my 3-year-old who would have been left without a mother, and my husband who would have been left to raise him alone, if I went to meet Jesus, but somehow that worry just didn’t enter my mind. I was given the peace necessary to just enjoy the exhilaration of the experience and the wonder of what the world looks like from 10,000 ft hanging from a parachute. It was truly awesome!
One thing I learned about myself from this experience is that “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT). Before skydiving, I was afraid a lot. God had shown me in various ways that I did not need to fear, and He had taken away a lot of my fears, but this experience truly solidified for me that He is with me and I can do anything He calls me to do.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. Philippians 4:19-20 (NLT).
As I mentioned above, there was a photographer on the plane. He’s the one who took the picture. He also took a video (which I have on an old VCR tape and need to transfer to digital format). He included three songs on the video that were just perfect:
- He started the video with “Fall Down” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, a song that asks “When will we fall down?” This was an appropriate song since after jumping out of an airplane, well, you fall down, and down, and down before the chute is pulled. It’s called free fall, and it’s really cool. But it’s only cool because you know there is a parachute that is going to catch you. As a Christian, I have the best parachute of all when I fall, and that is Jesus Himself.
- The second song was “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins (from Top Gun), which was so appropriate because jumping out of an airplane definitely puts you in the danger zone. But in truth, all of life is a danger zone as the enemy, the devil, tries to snare and deceive non-believers and Christians alike.
- The final song was “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day. This was a nice end of the video because I did have the time of my life that day. It is a day I will always look back on and remember the peace I received from God, a peace that is exemplified by the more mellow nature of this song compared to the first two.
In my life, I know there are times I will fall down, and every day I enter the danger zone, but with Jesus by my side I will always have the time of my life!