Obedience, God's Presence, and Other Things I Learned While Jumping Out of Airplanes

Hello everyone!  I know I have not been posting my regular schedule and to just be completely honest, it's because for the past few months or so I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety.  Bryan's transition from the Army and our move have been way more difficult than we anticipated and it has thrown me through a loop.  I have just had a lot of fear and have been losing a lot of sleep and though the Lord is seeing us through I am feeling pretty exhausted.  This morning was no different.  I woke up and I am just so tired and didn't feel like doing any writing and I wasn't going to but then something that I have been thinking a lot about lately popped into my head.

and so, I want to tell you an Army story...

If you don't know I was in the Army for almost five years and even though I served I always find the idea of me being a "vet" a little weird.  I have had people thank me and shake my hand or ask me to stand as a veteran in a crowd every November 11th but in the end I never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else in between, I don't have many medals, nor did I promote higher than a specialist before I got out.  I am always left feeling like it gave me more than I ever gave it and one of the things, among many that I cherish the most is my airborne wings and my red beret.

I never went into the Army expecting to jump out of airplanes...absolutely not but I found myself assigned to 5th Special Forces Group in Fort Campbell, KY.  If you are attached to a Special Forces unit it's a requirement to be airborne and in order to stay current with the skill you have to make a jump out of an aircraft every three months.  So I did it.  I went to airborne school at Fort Benning, GA, earned my wings, then returned to my unit and continued to jump there.

At my unit the three most common aircraft that we jumped out of were C-130s, Chinooks, and Black Hawks.  Up to this point in the story I had jumped out of both the C-130 and the Chinook.  They were my comfort zone and that's really saying a lot because though I love what I learned from jumping it absolutely terrified me.  And what terrified me even more was jumping from that dreaded Black Hawk.

I will tell you why dreaded it so much.

When you jump from a Black Hawk there are six jumpers (three on each side of the aircraft) and each jumper sits on the side of the aircraft with their feet dangling over the edges and when it comes time to jump you simply just push yourself off.  There is no comfort of being within the walls of an aircraft, it's just you and the ground below.  I don't know about you but there is just something really unappealing about watching my feet dangle over the side of a helicopter as it rises 1,500 feet up in the air.

So one day I was sitting in my office knowing full well that I was coming up on my three month mark and that I was going to have to make a jump soon.  Not ever my favorite thing to do but I would do it and then again three months later.  BUT on that day my OIC (officer in charge) comes to me to tell me that she was putting me on the next manifest that was happening in a week and she says, "oh by the way it's a Black Hawk."  I think all of the color drained from my face as I begged her to put me on a different manifest with a different aircraft but she wouldn't do it.  She wanted to push me and I am glad she did but I spent the entire week in heavy anxiety, praying that it would be cancelled due to weather.

(btw, if you are reading this...Hey, CPT Cork!  Thanks for always pushing me!)

It never got cancelled.  And the day of the jump comes and I am in complete tears.  Now at this point I was used to doing this, like I always say it wasn't my favorite thing to do but it never brought me to tears.  That's how much this aircraft terrified me.  The only thing that gave me the slightest peace was that my OIC was jumping with me and I somehow was also able to get a hold of my husband who was deployed to Afghanistan at the time for extra moral support.

But even with that the fear outweighed the peace...big time!

So we get to the drop zone, I get rigged up in my parachute, and my shaking knees barely got my butt up on the side of that aircraft.  As my jump master was getting me all set up to jump I was just praying that it would all be over soon and that I would never have to jump out of another Black Hawk  ever again.

and then something happened.

As we began to take off and as my feet left the ground further and further behind I have never felt such a peace in my entire life.  It's one of those moments that I will absolutely never forget.  A moment where fear disappeared within seconds and it never returned, even after my jump master hit me on the back of my helmet to notify me of my turn to jump.

Okay, now let me tell you why I felt so at peace.  It was because of the propellers.  They are so extremely powerful that though I was technically exposed to the world below the force of the wind coming from the propellers surrounded me on every side, forming this pressure that made me feel at ease.  Even as it banked and turned I felt completely secure.  I know this might all seem totally ironic since in the end I had to push myself off the side anyways but it was the peace during the flight that gave me the peace to jump when it was time.

When I look back on this day when my fear was stilled and I was able to do something that in the beginning made my blood run cold, it makes me dwell on the Lord and His presence.

Here's the thing, sometimes the Lord asks us to do things that we just flat out don't want to do and most of the time we choose not to do them out of fear, because they ask us to leave our comfort zones, because we don't have the strength.  But I wanted to use this analogy to encourage you to remain obedient to the Lord regardless of the task in front of you.  Even if you have absolutely no idea how in the world you're going to make it through it.  You have the ability to remain obedient because the Lord's presence is surrounding you on every side to see you through.  Not by your strength but by His and when you feel His presence you can step out and step forward in peace.

I wanted to tell you something about that day.  I landed with all of my limbs in place and from that day forward the Black Hawk became my very favorite aircraft to jump out of.  Sign me up!  There was just something about it that was so less chaotic.  It could be because they only jumped us six at a time instead of packing us in a C-130 like sardines.  Or maybe it was because I got to see the world from a whole different angle.  Or maybe it's because I overcame something that scared me and now I could see my potential.

It's the same thing when you decide to be obedient in your purpose.  Stepping out into a vulnerable space is going to become your favorite place to be.  Why?  Because that's where you see the Lord do His work.  It's where you start to see that what He promises is true:  To be with you always, to be your strength and your guide, to give you power to do hard things.

Before I joined the Army I went to Paris and couldn't even make it up the Eiffel Tower because I was so paralyzed with fear at the height of it.  Who goes all the way to Paris and doesn't go to the top of the Eiffel Tower?!  Isn't that just one of those things you just do? ...well, not me (or my mom, I'm calling her out too haha)!

Little did I know that about three years later I would be jumping out of planes flying higher than the height of the Eiffel Tower.  And if you would have told me that during my little attempt up that iconic tower I would have fell over laughing.

The point I want to make there is that I have no intention for the rest of my life to try and convince people that I did that with my own strength.  When I look back, the only thing that got my butt out of those planes was the presence of the Lord and His call for me to do hard things beyond my own capability.

I no longer jump out of airplanes for a living but if I am being completely honest I want my life to remain similar.  I want to live a life full of making leaps and bounds in faith so that when I look back when I am 80 I can say, "If it wasn't for the Lord, I would have never been able to accomplish that."

That's purpose.  It's doing the hard things you are called to do by being the hands and feet but placing the task itself into the capability of the one who is stronger.

There's nothing like it.  Entering into something that only the Lord can sustain.  That's true surrender, that's true relationship, that's truly living beyond yourself.

never let fear keep you from your purpose 

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