Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jumping Out Of A Perfectly Good Airplane?

In my previous post I discussed an analogy of faith using a skydiving experience once upon a time. I pointed out that anytime I wanted to reflect on what it is to experience faith I simply recalled the thoughts and feelings I had had as I readied myself to jump. But as I considered these things in more depth as of late, I realized that there was more to the analogy than simply having faith that my parachute would open and thus save my body from death. The airplane began to represent this world and it’s thinking, and my life.

Paul spoke of a dividing point, or a separation that occurs in our minds. In Romans 8 he said that those who ARE according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh and those who ARE according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. In thinking back, the assurances offered by the airplane verses the lack of assurance in my parachute seemed to represent that division.

Staying with the airplane seems to be the obvious choice. The constant drone of the engine affirms my faith in the airplane. The controls affirm my faith in my will. The pilot affirms my faith in man’s ability. The airplane is safe.

When I was going through the little training course the morning of my jump the instructor anticipated the question: “What kind of fool would jump out of a perfectly good airplane”? He told us to answer the question when asked: “There’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane”. This was, of course, in jest, but it fits well into the symbolism of this analogy. According to God, our lives are broken.

But faith is practiced. It is a life lived rather than a one-time decision to have faith. Faith is required at every turn, or, as James puts it, Faith without works is dead. It is as if we are, on a regular basis, required to make decisions in which the obvious choice, the one that feels right, the one that seems safest, the one that appears to promise us the highest level of peace and comfort is not the right choice. We generally know that it isn't the right choice, yet we experience these crises, both large and small, as we learn to trust in God instead of our own understanding.

Such crises can range from whether or not to go out on a date with someone attractive yet ungodly, to spanking one’s children, to breaking off a dating relationship, to telling the truth about something, to asking for help in an addiction, to homeschool, to not having an abortion, to trusting God to provide instead of the government with all its Satanic entangling strings attached, and on and on. In all of these, the point of decision is not the time to make up one’s mind. We must be ready ahead of time, before we are face to face with the decision, just as Joshua told the Israelites to “choose this day whom you will serve”.

I am afraid we live in a time in which many people preachers and theologians believe that we are saved by the one-time act of faith exercised when we “accept” Jesus. I am of the belief that this is a deception, and a horrible one at that, for it convinces people that faith is exercised by putting on the parachute, so to speak, then going on in life with the vain assurance that if their life falls apart or they die they have this sort-of ace in the hole. Meanwhile they never understand the One in whom they have placed their faith. Terms like joy and abundant life are interpreted as happiness because they are wholly foreign terms to the one who does not know his savior.

This is the airplane, a life that is according to the flesh. As for me, I have now begun to attempt to think and pray in terms of being both ready and able to face decisions based on a mind that is set on the things of the Spirit which is life and peace. I know I will have times of failure, but I also look forward to the times I jump, and in so doing, will KNOW my savior, and the wonderful joy that accompanies this intimacy, in new ways.