I am a highly emotional person who has battled anxiety and depression for most of the last two decades. As such, managing my emotions has been one of my central challenges. Throughout my twenty-five years in ministry, focusing on God’s faithfulness in spite of my disappointing unfaithfulness is how I cope with situations that seem daunting, threatening, and filled with both the possibility of a wonderful outcome or a complete dumpster fire.
A number of students from my youth ministry days went into the military during wartime. When one of those students came home, he shared that he was part of a unit that trained for nighttime HALO jumps. HALO is a skydiving acronym meaning High Altitude/Low Open. My friend’s training had him jumping from 20,000 feet and then free-falling in the dark at terminal velocity until his glow-in-the-dark altimeter indicated he was close enough to the ground to evade radar and thereby open his chute.
These warriors don’t start their training at this level of risk. They first jump out of a plane while the chute is simultaneously opened for them. People who experience this for the first time are immediately assured by the chute opening and glide safely to the ground. However, experienced skydivers (both military and recreational) will tell you their favorite part of the jump — the reason they do it again and again — is the free fall. The thrill of flying is what it’s all about! They’re able to enjoy it because they trust the parachute packer did their job.
Ministry’s HALO Jumps
For years in ministry, when I faced anxiety-provoking moments, I often reacted with high levels of unease and dread. It was the emotional equivalent of jumping out of a plane, closing my eyes, then screaming and praying until the chute opened.
At a certain point in my walk with Jesus, he impressed upon me to open my eyes, enjoy the view during the free fall, and rest in His faithfulness to provide. With each new chapter of life and ministry, the proverbial jumps take place from higher altitudes, in darker conditions, and with lower chute opening moments. Resting in God’s faithfulness helps me enjoy the journey.
The Fruit of the Vine
Here’s the thing. I don’t naturally have the ability to harness my emotions. By nature, I am not a particularly disciplined person. Left to my natural tendencies, I am driven to anger thinking about people trying to harm me, forgetting that even if they were trying, God would be faithful to providentially use their actions for my good (Romans 8:28).
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
For me to enjoy exhibited fruits of the Spirit — sustained peace and the self-discipline to reign in my feelings — I must retain an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. When I am attentive to His living in me (which takes His grace and strength to do), I find myself comforted by the truth of His Word. By pouring out my heart to Him in prayer, I experience His faithfulness in greater measure, which in turn produces more grace for greater opportunities to trust His faithfulness.
Do You Remain in Him?
What are the “HALO jumps” that cause you to forget God’s faithfulness? Do you practice focusing on God’s past provision when you face the next leap of faith? How would having confidence in God’s faithfulness throughout each day’s events affect your life and ministry?
My prayer is that by God’s grace and your trust in his faithfulness, you too can enjoy the “free-fall” in your ministry.