Did you ever go to the public, community, or neighborhood pools as a kid?
You know, the ones where the lifeguards were all high school students, who didn't have anything better to do with their summer except sit in a chair, and tan, and watch over small children as they played Marco Polo, so their mothers could attempt to get an hour of solace.
Well, at these pools there was typically always some sort of a semi-high diving board. A diving board that proved your amount of courage... and ability to swim.
If you were anything like me, at some point during your childhood career, you purposed in your little heart that you would some day climb the ladder and show that high dive who was boss. Summer came and went, and each year your confidence grew until one day... it was time.
You climbed the ladder, which seemed to never end, and as each bar brought you higher, you became more in touch with your sheer regret of the decision you had just made.
As you reached the top, legs shaking with each step toward the edge, you gaze down to see all of your friends looking on, holding their breath or taking bets to see how long it takes before you chicken out.
You catch a glimpse of your mother, and almost feel her teeth clench and jaw tighten as she whispers a quick prayer that you don't drown and/or break your neck. In the midst of all of the pressure, during the few minutes that seem like an eternity, you have a decision to make.
You can turn around, climb down the ladder, and get back into the shallow end of the pool where you know you'll be safe. This is a legitimate option, however, if you do this, you'll have to live knowing you got so close to facing your fear, and defying the odds against you, only to back out at the most defining moment.
OR you can jump.
I find that following Christ is similar. And by following Christ, I don't mean merely checking the "Christian" box on Facebook, voting Republican, (For the record I'm not a registered Republican. Shocker, I know.) and reading Joel Osteen books.
I mean raw, painful, messy, radical devotion.
The kind that causes you to ugly cry during prayer and worship, out of sheer conviction for what a selfish and thickheaded human you are.
The kind that moves you to actually do something about a social justice cause, rather than just follow an organization's Instagram.
The kind that provokes you to quite literally lose yourself for the sake of the gospel. To abandon, and let go of your plans, agendas, ideas, dreams and hopes, for the sake of eternity.
To be uncomfortable, mocked, persecuted and ostracized.
For a purpose, and a gain with a unfathomable worth.
So many times, I find myself getting comfortable in the shallow end of the pool, with the peeing babies and "Marco!", "Polo!", screams.
I see myself looking longingly to the high dive and wondering if maybe, just maybe I jump, I'll find a clearer vision and renewed sense of self.
When finally, I find the ability to muster up some courage to begin the climb up the ladder, regretting my decision every step of the way.
And then all at once - I'm at the top.
My legs are shaking and I can feel my heartbeat in my ears. I may stand up there for a good fifteen minutes before I even bend my knees, but I know - I have to jump.
"1-2-3-4 Gooooo!" For a few seconds, it feels as though I can fly, until the bliss is halted by a swift crash into the cobalt blue.
My head breaks through the surface, I gasp that exhilarating first breath and revel in the glory of my victorious achievement. Within a few minutes, the excitement and thrill of jumping from a board twenty feet in the air, suddenly dissipates into disappointment. This supposed, "giant" leap was only a small jump into a little pool, and not much has changed.
I'm just another kid who jumped of the high dive.
You see, jumping off the board for Christ and out into whatever He is calling you into, doesn't come with immediate satisfaction, results, gratification, or recognition.
In fact, it's quite the opposite.
As privileged first-worlders, we have been sorely deceived and robbed by our instantaneous society.
Our information-at-our-fingertips technology, and five-second meal conveniences have crippled us into believing that that's how life actually does and should work.
We should jump off the high dive and immediately receive a standing ovation from fellow public pool onlookers, and be able to join an Olympic diving team.
Sorry y'all, it just doesn't work like that.
Jumping off the high dive doesn't immediately produce dramatic results... however it's the gateway into something beautiful.
When I first moved to Haiti, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I can tell you I definitely did not expect that a year a half later I would be the legal guardian of a 15 year old, speak Kreyòl daily, and be in the process of starting a ministry to help young Haitian women get off the street, and take control of their lives.
I think I imagined I would get on a plane (the high dive) and thus would begin this magical adventure that would *hopefully* land one of my photos in an issue of National Geographic, or a job with a super awesome organization like International Justice Mission.
To my knowledge, neither of those have happened yet, but if you ever wanna holla at ya girl, NatGeo, I'll holla back, haaaaaaaay.
Instead, I've found myself reveling in small victories, like being able to take an actual shower, Almond Milk, and waking up mosquito-bite-less.
I've found myself thinking about climbing back down the ladder, (AKA hoping on the next flight outta here, #amiright fellow expats and missionaries?) and standing at the top, legs shaking, knowing in fact, no, climbing back down is not what I'm supposed to do.
I gotta JUMP.
And not just jump once, but like three, four, or fifty-seven times, even.
I just finished reading a pretty awesome devotional with my favorite, She Reads Truth gals, and the 1 & 2 Timothy study was legit.
If you've ever gotten into the books of Timothy, you know that Paul is imploring one of his favorite, younger students to jump of the high dive.
To take what he's learned and go to the ends of the earth. To jump off that board with all of his might, and not even THINK about chickening out.
To tell everyone who wants to talk down to him because of his age, or lack of education and training, that they can kindly go fly a kite, and he'll just keep on jumping.
Because even though it's not easy, on the contrary it's difficult, so, so difficult, brutal even - it's worth it.
Because of the fact that as Paul was writing these letters, he was shackled and imprisoned for the cause of Christ and didn't even think twice about giving his entire life for the sake of the gospel.
Paul was building Timothy's stamina to take his own leap into follow Christ's call. To continue the work that had begun and not back out because of fear, insecurities or the need to see immediate results.
Following Christ is blood, sweat and tears.
It's sacrifice after sacrifice.
Starting a ministry is anything but glamorous, and often times the very laborer who has toiled, and toiled to see the work begin, only sees the smallest sprouts of the harvest.
Those Olympic divers don't get to the games with one jump. It's hours, and weeks, and months and years of jump after jump to prepare for the one jump that matters most.
Reaping/seeing results = not throwing in the towel.
It means admitting when you're wrong. When you need the lifeguard to come and help you swim out and catch your breath.
Not trying to do it all yourself, to be some sort of hero.
Admitting when you do need to get on a plane and fly away for a few weeks to regain your sanity.
But not giving up.
So let's jump.
And find in exhilaration knowing that the jump is only the beginning.