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Take the Leap, Chicken

In my hometown, West Plains, Missouri, we have an old mining quarry that is a few miles out of town.  Me and some of my friends used to go out there quite often to jump off the big cliff.  As memory serves me it was at least 30 feet high and in the stories of my later years that distance ramped up to about 60 feet to make the stories even better.  No matter the true height, when you first go out there and stand at the edge of that cliff, it is pretty intimidating.  So intimidating that when I first jumped off I had to be shamed into doing it.  There were four of us up on the cliff and we were laughing and joking and talking big about the can openers,  jack knives, and other types of ways we were going to jump off until it came time to jump.  It got real quiet, real quick!!  One of our group all of a sudden yelled out “I’m going” and ran and jumped out into space over the water below.  When he jumped off two more jumped at the same time all yelling as they went over into the water below.   Guess who was left behind?  Me!!  I had a quick “I could die from this” thought go through my mind and then ran to the edge of the cliff and skidded to a stop.  As I looked over the edge there were my buddies all swimming and laughing below.  One looked up and said “Come on Dave, Jump!”  When I was looking at the distance to the water it seemed to grow in my perception to an incredible height that was much higher than I thought I could handle.  I said “Ok, I’m coming and stepped back ten steps.”  I thought to myself “Am I really gonna do this?”  The embarrassment that awaited me if I didn’t jump was foremost in my thinking as I tried to raise enough raw courage to overcome my fear of heights that had been with me for years.  Those years began with me  going on a class trip to an amusement park that had a tower that was 250 feet high.  You could get on an elevator and ride to the observation deck and look over miles of land.  I got on the elevator and when it got to the top I crawled off like a slithering snake because I could not bring myself to stand.  Now that is scared of heights!!  Now this guy is 30 feet over the water on a cliff about to jump into space hoping he will land good in the water below?  My fear was overwhelming my ability to move my legs forward to even jump until… happened.  One of my buddies below had sensed my lack of desire to jump and he said those fateful words “Take the leap, chicken!”  Now my pride kicked in and it was overruling my judgment and even my fear of heights.  I thought “Well, it’s now or never!”  So…..I JUMPED!  I distinctly remember mumbling “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die” on the way down, and I was amazed how many times I could say those words in the two seconds it took to get to the water below.  But the feeling of ecstasy was amazing when I lived through the jump.  Coming to the surface of the water was exhilarating.  But not so much so when one of my buddies said “Let’s do it again.”   I said, “No way. I’m gonna swim for awhile.”

I took the leap and it was a leap of faith.  This leap of faith was believing that my angle of descent was correct to keep me from landing weird and killing myself.  This leap of faith was believing the water would soften my body being driven downward by the force of gravity.  This leap of faith was believing that it was worth it all.  Taking a leap of faith is just that “a leap!”  You consider all factors and the ones you can’t calculate are the unknown.  In that unknown you know there can be good and bad results and your faith in going ahead and leaping must override the scary parts of the unknown.

At age twenty I was confronted with a major life decision that was brought on by my Savior, Jesus Christ.  At that time Jesus was doing a major work in my life and then He took me to the cliff and asked me to jump!!  This leap was a leap to commit my life to full time Christian service and it was a daunting thought.  I tried to think ahead to the ramifications on my life.  Because since I was ten years old I had one desire.  To be a professional singer.  My life course was aimed to that end and I had written songs for years and worked tirelessly for that one goal.  But, the call on my life by Jesus was leading me to become a minister and it scared me to death.  I was very fearful about what my family might think; if I would tire of it; and how it would stop my life goal from happening. All of these thoughts were racing through my mind as I looked over this cliff of decision.  But there came a point where I had to take the leap or walk away from the cliff.  No voice from below saying “Take the leap, chicken!”  But there was a voice from above saying “I’ve got you, jump!”  So I took the leap and the exhilaration of serving Christ has not been disappointing at all.  It has been a joy, mixed with some pain, to follow my Savior Jesus Christ.   Those who were first called had a similar experience.  Matthew 4: 18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  These untrained fishermen were called by Jesus to step out in faith and they left everything and followed Him.  They took the leap!!

My wife and I have travelled all over this country in ministry.  We have served churches in Missouri, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and now in Alabama and we have had good and bad times along the way, but the leap was worth it.  I may not be a corporate success or a star in the area of music.  I am this…  A man who took the leap!!  Now I can lead others to leap also. Leap into a growing walk with Jesus Christ that impacts lives for generations to come.  I really considered heavily the impact of following Christ in this all out way, and I stood at the edge of that cliff and tried to walk away from this commitment.  But in my mind I knew I could trust the Lord and said to myself “Take the leap, chicken.”  I am thankful for the way that Christ has grown me in His grace and for the lives that have impacted me and hopefully I have impacted for the Lord.  I am so glad I didn’t walk away from that cliff and I took the leap.  God has held me in His hand all along the way and I look forward to many more adventures in the future.  To Him be glory and honor!!

If you are standing at the edge of your cliff of decision I hope you will consider heavily the cost of following Jesus and I hope you will “take the leap!”  God is faithful to catch us and keep us and direct our paths to true greatness if we are willing to leap.  It is not much different from Peter when He stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water. Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But Peter saw the wind and waves and started to doubt (or walk away from the edge of the cliff) and he cried out to the Lord and Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of Peter’s hand.  If you jump Jesus will catch you, but don’t doubt!!   If I had walked away from God’s call and if the fear had made me turn away from that call I would not have shown much faith.  Jesus asks a poignant question of Peter when He gets him back in the boat.  Jesus said,  “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Not doubting makes the person  who takes the leap a person of faith and that is the kind of person I want to be.  May I continue to be a person who leaps into the unknown of God’s will every day of my life and continue to take many more leaps in the days ahead.

The Pilgrimage continues…..

David Warren

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