Take the leap
Grace and Truth: A word from pastorsby Ron Adams
We have a cat named Kirby. I've written about him before—and of my penchant for assuming that a fat old cat exhibits human feelings and longings. Well, I've been doing it again.
I watched Kirby do some jumping recently. Nothing acrobatic about it. From the floor to his chair. Not a big jump. What I noticed was the "measure twice-cut once" approach Kirby takes to jumping. He looks up to where he intends to land. Then looks at the floor. Then back to the chair, and then to the floor. Then, having taken precise measurements to ensure a proper and dignified landing, Kirby jumps. And nails it every time.
I'm sure such behavior is hard-wired into Kirby's smallish brain, and that he is not really calculating height and energy and mass and velocity. He just follows some ancient genetic behavioral pattern and jumps.
But I can't help imagining that what Kirby is up to is careful measurement of the risk and the gain, weighing the chance of falling over against the possibility of landing somewhere warm and soft that feels like home. Because, truth be told, that's how I usually get ready to make a leap.
Look before you leap. That's the common wisdom. Don't be precipitous. Don’t be impulsive. Don't take unnecessary risks. Look before you leap.
Then there's this opposite bit of wisdom: She who hesitates is lost. It's like when the boat is casting off, and she’s running down the pier but hesitates at the edge, and the boat is gone. If she'd gone ahead and thrown caution to the wind and made the leap, she would have made it safe onboard.
I live somewhere between the two. Wanting to be wise as the serpent, cool and calculating, moving slowly and carefully toward my target. But also wanting to be as innocent as a dove, ready to risk it all, flying off half-cocked and trusting that something good will come of it. Wishing I could know in advance exactly what will come if I jump. And wishing I could stop fretting and just leap into the unknown.
Like a good Mennonite should, I tilt toward the cautious. Despite my desire to be more carefree, less careful, I rarely take a big risk. To be honest, the little ambiguities left after all my "discernment" (which is often a euphemism for agonizing over the decision in hopes that it will make itself) are usually more than enough for me to handle.
Yet I am aware, mostly after the fact, that I can miss out on much by moving too slowly, measuring too carefully and calculating too finely. And I wonder if it's not time for me to learn sometimes how to close my eyes and leap and trust that I’ll land where I ought to land.
In the Lenten season, we see Jesus calling his disciples to jump farther and higher and over wider chasms than they'd ever jumped before, to place their hope in someone who keeps telling them he's on his way to Jerusalem to suffer and die, to trust that he will be raised from the dead. Jesus also calls them to count the cost. But it is clear that he is using a higher form of math than they know. Because, following their counting, it would be best to turn around and walk away and find some other, less alarming savior. But using Jesus' calculations, following him all the way to death and beyond is the only wise choice.
I know their fear. We all do. The fear of placing our lives in the hands of someone telling us things that, coming from anyone else, would be dismissed without a thought. When we do the calculations the usual way, we despair of making the leap. It's too scary.
But Jesus keeps on calling us to do it. To count the cost his way, which means seeing all of eternity at the end of equation and trusting that we'll land there if we just cross our hearts and close our eyes and make the leap. To follow him to Golgotha, to the tomb and on toward that place that feels like home.
That is home.
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