Between last year and this, our family has SIX recent/upcoming graduates. We practically have our own class! To the Class of 2018: Congratulations on your tremendous achievement!
The experience of skydiving taught me five basic life principles I learned on the way down that every graduate, whether high school or college, needs to know. (They’re also reminders for all of us, in any stage of life).
- Focus on God. My private lesson with my personal instructor began. “We’ll exit the plane with arms folded across the chest. When I push you forward, don’t hesitate. Arch your back and slightly bend your knees. When I tap your shoulders, spread both arms out for the rest of the way down. And smile. It’ll tighten your cheeks so they won’t flap as much.”
I hung on my expert instructor’s every word as I quickly realized that my life was literally in his hands. But I couldn’t help overhearing other instructors who were explaining different techniques to their students. I tried to keep my attention on my instructor but kept getting distracted. “Why aren’t all the instructors giving the same instructions?” I wondered. As if reading my mind, he got really close to my face and said these words. “You’ll hear other instructors giving directions to their partners. I am your partner. I do things differently than them. Focus on me only, listen to me only and you’ll be fine.”
I was all ears.
Sometimes life can be like Jump School. We have a lot of distractions trying to capture our attention. If you want to be successful in life, keep your focus on the Master Flight Instructor. Listen to Him above all else.
- Be prepared to leave your comfort zone. It was all fun and games on the ground, but when the plane door opened at 14,000 feet, reality hit like a freight train.
What the heck was I thinking? What about this “Kamikaze Moment” did I think would be fun? CLOSE THAT DOOR! SOMEONE COULD FALL OUT! Oh, wait. That’s the whole point.
We sat in a line on a plank. Suddenly, the tandem jumpers in front of me slid to the open door and were gone…just like that! Immediately my instructor – to whom I was tightly hooked – began nudging me forward from behind.
Instinctively, I nudged back. He pushed me forward again, more forcefully.
I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to review the instructions. Actually, I wanted to quit!
Nudging became shoving. I didn’t like being fastened to him anymore. I didn’t like where he was headed. Good grief, this was dangerous!
I stood on the ledge of the plane with a death grip on the doorway, feeling the pressure of my instructor behind me. Over the roar of the engine I shouted to him, “I just wanted to fly…not fall!” His reply? “NO FREEFALL….NO FLY!”
I gave up and the next moment I was hurtling toward the ground at 120 mph!
I was in freefall…with absolutely no control!
If you want to be successful in life, realize that following God involves being ready to leave your comfort zone.
- Obey Without Reservation. My instructor’s explicit directions were that once he tapped my shoulder, my arms were to be extended until he pulled the ripcord.
“Got it.” I replied.
Until I encountered a problem. See, due to the excessive force of air as we were falling, my zipper was beating my cheek to death. I remembered his stern instruction about keeping my arms out. But this was an exception, I told myself.
With my right hand, I began to work with my zipper, trying to tuck it inside my collar. Suddenly, we began to spin in circles, round and round. “What is he trying to do, kill us?” I wondered.
The spinning became faster and faster as I fussed with my zipper. Then it hit me. I was the reason we were spinning! Bringing one hand in had thrown us into the spin. I stuck my hand back out into the original position and the spinning immediately stopped.
If you want to be successful in life, obey God without reservation. Even when you think you know best.
- The View is Worth the Jump. Just when I thought my cheeks would flap off my face, he pulled the ripcord. The deafening roar of air rushing past my ears vanished, plummeting gave way to floating and I was engulfed in silence, peace and a stunning, panoramic view of serene countryside. “It’s beautiful!” The view was worth the jump. Grumbling gave way to gratitude. Protesting became praise. I heard myself sincerely thanking the same person I’d resisted just moments before!
If you want to be successful in life, remember, living for God will be worth any sacrifices you make.
- Trust Him for the Future. Regarding landing instructions, I had inquired before take-off. His response? “Ah, don’t worry…the ground’ll stop ya.”
But, you see, when my instructor fastened himself to me, from that point forward, I became his responsibility. And so it is with God.
By the way, when the parachute opened, my guide said calmly, “Now, let’s talk about landing. At my cue, straighten your legs, raise your feet and hold that position.”
This made no sense. I had seen others land (or attempt to land) on their feet and run a little ways. But, as the ground rapidly rose to meet us, he said, “Now”. I did as told and was seated gently, like a leaf floating to the ground.
During the entire trip, I had worried about landing.
Only at the end did I realize he had told me exactly what I needed to know…exactly when I needed to know it. So much of life is spent worrying over questions like, “Does God see me?” “Does God hear me?”
Dear Friend, God is with you in your journey.
To the Class of 2018, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. It will not be easy. But you are the class of 2018!
May you keep your focus on God, be prepared to abandon your comfort zone, obey Him without reservation and remember the view is worth the jump as you trust Him for your future.