When I was a kid my brother and I used to play this game. One of us would yell, “Trust fall!” The other would close their eyes and fall backwards, hoping to be caught.
Originally it started out really fun. Closing my eyes, free falling backwards, sometimes for what felt like eternity to be caught at the last second.
But then something happened. One of us, I’m not sure who, got the grand idea to yell, “Trust fall!” and when we started falling stepped out of the way so the faller would end up falling to the ground. Which, if you think about it, defeats the ENTIRE purpose of the game.
Talk about game changer.
From that point on I would never really close my eyes all the way, never fall fully trusting to be caught, and always had a backup plan for what would happen if my brother didn’t catch me, keeping my eyes open just a crack to see what I could reach for, or bending my knees so the fall wouldn’t be so painful.
One of us would notice our eyes weren’t completely closed or call out when we were grasping for something to catch or soften our fall, “Don’t you trust me?”
Well, no actually. I felt so betrayed the first time my brother stepped out of the way to let me fall. From that point on I didn’t want to be in the vulnerable position of falling and making myself look like a fool again and again.
I realize I do this to God ALL.THE.TIME.
I say I’m trusting Him, but my eyes aren’t fully closed, I’m making my plans just in case He doesn’t catch me, or what my recovery will look like if I hit the ground. And when I do close my eyes, I fall back half-heartedly reaching out with my hands for something to grab on to if He’s not there.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” - Psalm 37:5-7
One summer I was struck by the fact that the Lord doesn’t need me to do anything. He doesn’t need me to keep reaching, striving, and trying. It says, “Trust in him and HE WILL ACT…” I don’t get to do anything but close my eyes and fall into the work He’s doing, the action He’s bring about.
But instead, I squint my eyes shut, begin to fall back, bending my knees just enough so the fall won’t hurt, and keeping my eyes on something I can grab in case He isn’t there.
What I don’t realize is I’m reaching to grab onto things that aren’t trustworthy. It looks like a rope that’s secure, but it’s dangling, frayed at the top, ready to give way under my pressure.
And this is what my striving, my trying outside of the work of the gospel looks like. It looks like reaching for a rope that’s ready to bust when the arms of Jesus are wide open ready to catch me.
I love my Young Life girls. They show up with so much honesty and vulnerability every week. A couple weeks ago one theme I kept hearing from them was, “I work hard at trying to please God and do his will…”
How many times do I say that? How many times do I believe that? Or even as I’m falling say, “Remember, I work hard to please you and do your will so catch me!!!”
But that’s not what He wants. The more and more I journey with Him and try to trust fall with my eyes fully closed and no back up plan, the more I realize He just wants me fully surrendered. He desires me fully flawed and giving up anything I can do on my own , giving up on trying to reach for the frayed ropes. He desires me to be fully ready to just fall into His arms and let Him act.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” - John 15:4-11
His joy is full in me when I give up my backup plans and start to fall into the fullness of abiding in Him.
One of the most profound moments I have experienced as a Young Life leader is taking kids repelling. From the bottom, the rock face doesn’t look intimidating at all, and even when you’re at the top getting your harness on, you still haven’t gone to the ledge. I’ve watched the bravado some my Young Life friends approach the ledge and others in silent terror.
It doesn’t matter how many times I reassure them they’re safe, they’re eyes tell me they don’t believe me.
The greatest challenge when you’re repelling (if it’s your first time) is once you’re at the ledge to sit into the harness hanging 75 feet (or more) above the ground. I’ve stood in front of kids who were gripped with fear, the full knowledge that the harness was secure, but unwilling to believe in the surety of the equipment.
Some would go to sit and then stand back up over and over again.
But when they finally sat into the seat of the harness and realized they were indeed safe, relief would flood their eyes and confidence would start to glimmer.
I wonder how many times Jesus is coaching me to sit in his harness of life or trust fall into His arms and I still resist, calloused and mistrusting the certainty of his plan and his goodness for me.
All He asks is that I abide and He acts. But I have to let go of the false, frayed ropes of striving, self-righteousness and control. I have to sit into the harness and believe the way down is secure.
So today, I’m mulling over when does it look like to practically trust fall into Jesus daily? I think for me it’s a moment by moment surrender. It’s taking captive thoughts that are lies. It’s giving Him the covenant time He desires with me (actual Sabbath).
Question: Today, what does it look like for you to give up striving, trust fall into the completed work of Jesus and start abiding in Him?
Prayer: Jesus, keep me falling into the saving goodness of your work and allow you to work. Help me to resist backup plans and the false security that keeps me from fully falling into the work you are doing. Work in me to live in complete surrender and dependence on you. I desire to fall into your arms and your work that is far greater than the plans I have.