Last week, my husband jumped out of an airplane.
For a sermon illustration.
He's done lots of things for sermon illustrations. He has used real fire and real chain saws to drive a point home. He uses the verbal illustration most often. He talks about me, his kids, and his friends in sermons all the time. He once tattled on me to the whole congregation, claiming that I was a cusser, a foul mouthed human being. The congregation laughed and I had to answer a thousand questions about the incident in the hallways after the service. In my defense, I uttered one small word (not even a really bad one) in front of my kids and they delighted in repeating it over and over. They told daddy and a sermon illustration was born. I must not here that sometimes the stories in his messages are stretched the ever most teensiest bit.
This time, though, the point he was trying to get across could not be done from the safety of a stage or from behind a pulpit. The message was too big, too risky, too important. He called me week before the stunt and I could tell something important was on his mind.
"Hey babe," he said.
"How's your day going? Are you having a good day?"
"Yes. I am...Why do you ask?"
"Well, um...I was wondering what you'd think if I jumped out of an airplane...."
"HUH? Wow. Well, someday I think that would be fine."
"Friday, I want to skydive on Friday."
I was dumbfounded but, excited for him. We're generally a risk taking family. We do roller coasters, we hike, we do marathons and triathlons. Skydiving was way riskier than any of these things but, I said it would be OK as long as I could be there.
After all, someone would have to collect his broken bones if the chute didn't open.....
So, Friday, the kids and I traveled to the airport with Mike to watch him fling himself willingly from a perfectly good airplane. Here's a quick snapshot of paragraph 2 of the waiver he had to sign.
In case you can't read it, it says "Jumping out of an airplane is a very dangerous thing to do. Please do not ever say that we told you skydiving is safe. It is not." It goes on to list the different injuries one can sustain from skydiving, "broken legs, angles, wrists or fingers," "death from hitting the ground too hard."
So he signed it and boarded the airplane after we read this quote on the wall,
The kids and I watched his plane take off, watched it disappear in the clouds, and watched a tiny white speck plummet toward the earth. I was mostly calm. At least that's what my kids would tell you. Inside I was desperately trying to quiet the raving lunatic telling me that I would never see my husband in one piece again.
When the parachute deployed we could see and hear him clearly. He made it down safely and I was able to breathe normally again. You can watch the video below.
So, why did he jump? What was the point he was trying to prove? Overlake is heading into a huge, mind blowing vision campaign. The campaign itself is not mind blowing but, it's goals are. Goals like 1,000 slaves set free, 2,000 orphans adopted into loving families, 1,000 churches planted, 50 Community Health Centers to combat HIV/AIDS......
We're asking our congregation to give of themselves in a way that many of them never have. We're asking them to take this risk with us and give of their time and resources in sacrificial, radical ways. We're asking them to trust God.
These things, my friends, are why I let my husband jump out of an airplane.