“Jump, Lysa.” Bob urged. “I can’t,” I squeaked. “Even if I wanted to, I can’t figure out how.” My feet and brain had become disconnected. The signals weren’t reaching the fibers of my muscles. I couldn’t jump. Neither could I turn and run. By this point an audience was gathering below. They were chanting my name and cheering for me to jump. Bob whispered, ‘You’re absolutely loved. Now when you’re ready, jump.'” – Uninvited, by Lysa TerKeurst
I remember it more than I like. I have a story almost exactly idenditical to this.
I was with a huge group of friends, friends that are so loving and welcoming. They’re not intimidating or judgemental. They’re the opposite; they’re silly and encouraging.
We all found a rope swing on the lake one day. It wasn’t a scary swing, not abnormally high or close to deteriorating in anyway. Just your average rope swing.
And I watched all my friends jump off the limb; I watched them do back flips, strap on GoPros, I watched them in their freedom.
It didn’t occur to me that I would have to jump too.
The author of the quote above talks about life happening around you instead of to you. I was in that mentality about the rope swing. I’m honestly in that mentality about most anything that could be considered slightly scary. I’m naturally timid and I’m naturally shy which is the most unfriendly combination when it comes to scary and spontaneous things.
This community of brothers and sisters is special though; they love me the way I am, but love me enough to not let me stay that way.
They chanted my name and encouraged me and cheered me on when I finally managed to commit to my non-backflip, non-GoPro-worthy jump.
The embarassment I felt of being so afraid, the shame I felt of it taking me so long was instantly overwhelmed by the love that surrounded me. My friends hugged me and shouted like I had jumped off a mountain.
“You’re absolutely loved.”
I think Jesus is like that too.
We get paralyzed with fear sometimes, for me, a lot. We freeze in fear whether we’re on an unstable tree branch or in an evangelistic conversation.
But we’re overwhelmed with grace from a Father pushing us on, telling us “You’re absolutely loved.”
He loves us whether we do a backflip or even just force ourselves to fall off the branch. Both are steps of faith, and He works in those steps, little or large.
He is faithful even when we are faithless.
So I want to remind you that we don’t have to be paralyzed with fear anymore. We serve a God who heals and forgives.
Mark 2:1-12 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
We don’t have to be slaves to fear.
And even when we’re afraid, there’s grace. When we are petrified, Jesus is courage. When we are timid, Jesus is faithful. When we are humiliated, Jesus is overwhelming love.
So I’ll leave you with this.
Wherever you are today, wherever you are in life,
Whatever branch you find yourself stuck on,
You’re absolutely loved.
Now when you’re ready,