Generally speaking, I am not an impulsive risk taker. I tend to be cautious about personal safety, but even more so in my work. I like a lot of variables to be answered before I am willing and ready to make a decision, probably more so now the older I have gotten.
Even when I was young, I wasn’t much of a risk taker which was why it was so surprising when I found myself on a platform being strapped into a bungee jump. It was at an amusement park in New Jersey with the young men I was responsible for in my dorm at the university. We had a “get to know you” retreat with the in-coming freshmen and at the time it seemed like an opportunity to bond… until I was standing at the ledge.
Ironically, I didn’t seem as much afraid of jumping from that height as I was the trustworthiness of the attraction. I looked over the somewhat frayed harness, the bungee cord itself, the crane apparatus and the high school student running the bungee jump, who I am sure was more responsible than he looked. All of the variables seemed to be less than perfect, but perhaps just adequate enough to see me successfully surviving. Still, I had questions. I peppered the operators with questions about proper maintenance, proper positioning, weight limits, etc. It seemed like the prudent thing to do.
When the rotation came about and it was my turn on the platform, I edged my toes over the ledge. I couldn’t bring myself to jump so I urged the operator just to give me a push. He told me it was a policy that he couldn’t help. He said he has never had anything break before, it was perfectly safe.
It was really in that moment I had to make a decision. There was no way to know if everything was going to work as it was supposed to until I gave it the test, my full weight suspended by all that equipment. So, I jumped. I clearly made it… I’m here writing the story!
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. II Corinthians 12:9-10
Sometimes it surprises us to learn that Bible heroes like Paul were just people too. Facing the same trials, temptations, struggles and doubts that we do. In fact, Paul shares here in II Corinthians, he had something he was insecure about, a “thorn in the flesh”. In spite of speculations, nobody really knew what it was. All we really know is that Paul said it was something the evil one used to wrestle against him with. He even asked the Lord three times to take it away and God’s response to Paul is something we all need to hear.
He reminded Paul that it was Paul’s weakness that could cause him to fully know His strength. It’s easy for us to believe we can rely on our strength, on our own ability to handle all we face in life. But God reminded Paul that his and our inabilities, those weaknesses, those flaws, all let us know God completely.
We say we give our entire life, every part to Him, but rarely is that true. We tend to hold back certain parts, like limited control would be anywhere close to enough to resolve things in our own strength.
It feels unnatural to allow ourselves to freefall in God’s grace. But freefalling is the only way to fully appreciate His strength. Our weakness help loosen the grip of control of our own life. We don’t have to totally let go, but until we do, His power and grace cannot be completely known.
So learn to welcome your weakness. Use its momentum to release the grip of control of your own life. We will never know the sufficiency of His grace until we let go of the platforms and handrails that hold us back from the expanse of His immeasurably great strength. We will never know the strength of His grip, until we see that grip flexed like a bungee cord, proving itself under pressure.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
February 10, 2022