The view was magnificent. Mountain after mountain filled with trees, green and lush with the sun glistening across the tips. The sky rose above them boasting puffy white clouds--a picture perfect canvas. I'd taken in this moment of God's artwork on many occasions sitting on the front porch of a building I'd helped build some 20 years earlier. It was always a breathtaking view from the Cracker Barrel Rockers that lined the front porch. Today the view was equally as breathtaking, but the perspective was far from the peaceful moments on the front porch. Perched 40 feet up the mountain sitting on a wooden deck with my feet in stirrups, my body in a harness and a helmet on my head, the view was daunting. Still magnificent but daunting. As I heard the carabineer click into place and felt the pull of the weight of the rope that would launch me out over the side of the mountain, I was a bit distracted from the view. For an everlasting moment I chided myself for losing all sanity. But there was no going back at this point. Poised and ready to go, all eyes were on me. It was an easy step. My instructor calmly, almost as a second thought, spoke: "just step into the stirrup. It's all downhill from there."
Just step into the stirrup. It seemed so easy. Yet it was indeed all "downhill from there." A 40 foot freefall down the side of the mountain before the rope caught me was considered the first step. Beyond that was the rush of swinging out over the side of the mountain hundreds of feet above ground--almost a big enough swing to touch the sky.
My instructor, along with my friends, began the count. Three, two, one, GO! Out loud I heard myself say, "stand up." As I followed my own orders, the rope went limp, the stirrup bore no weight and for what seemed like eternity, I was in a free fall. And then, just as I thought I would scream, the rope caught, the stirrup was secure and I began my joy ride out beyond the mountain, over the valley and reached for the sky. The wind in my face, the complete freedom I experienced in the vast creation while still being held securely by the harness, the stirrup and the rope made me laugh out loud with delight.
The risk is in the action--not in the outcome. One step off the edge of a platform 40 feet up the side of a mountain made all the rest of my experience happen. If I hadn't left the platform, there would be no freedom, no wind in my face, no joy ride, no reaching for the sky. One step. But that one step meant that there would be a 40 foot free fall, that I had to trust the harness, the stirrup and the rope, and for that matter, the designer of the swing. One step. In that step is the risk. Beyond that first step is the outcome--the ride of my life, the experience of freedom, and the satisfaction of success.
God instructed many of his servants in the Bible to take a step. He told Abraham to go to a country he did not know. He told Moses to come near and take off his shoes at the burning bush. He told Joshua to step into the Jordan River and then, it would part. David took a step and then another and then another to come face to face with a giant. Peter, James and John stepped away from their livelihood and their lifestyle and followed Jesus. The town harlot stepped into a room full of haters and stooped to wash the feet of Jesus with her most costly possession. One step, one action. Jesus took the first step down the long and rugged road to a hill called Calvary.... The risk is in the action, the first step, not in the outcome. Jesus knew the outcome. His last words, "It is finished" signified the grandest outcome of all time--the freedom of every heart and soul that would take a step toward Him.
If I hadn't stepped into the thin air on that crisp day on the side of a mountain, I would have missed the freedom of the ride. If I hadn't stepped toward Jesus, I would have missed the freedom of living in the fullness of God's spirit thriving in me. What are you missing because you've not yet taken the first step? The outcome is waiting. All you have to do is "step into the stirrup. It's all downhill from there". Don't miss the joy of the ride.
Jesus: Thank you for taking a step so that I could be free. Help me to recognize your freedom in every outcome of my life. Help me to step into the stirrup and recognize that at the end of the free fall you will catch me securely and allow me the delight of your joy as I reach for the sky with you. I love you. I trust you. You are for me. You have a plan for me. I am secure in the free fall of your love.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)