What are the chances of this happening?
While teaching on faith last week and using an illustration on skydiving from a book called Faith is Like Skydiving (published by Intervarsity Press where I work and linked on my homepage), a college student would later bring up a great skydiving story he was involved in, which was just as great as the book.
In Faith is Like Skydiving, author Rick Mattson tells the story of a woman who unfortunately lost her husband to a skydiving accident. He leapt from an airplane on a windy day, pulled the rip cord, dangled under a full chute and was ready for a good landing. But then the wind took him off course and he got entangled in some power lines.
The author then proceeds to tie in faith and skydiving with the potential of our faith failing:
The image of skydiving illustrates the evidential stage of faith for several reasons. One is the risk of failure.
How could faith possibly fail? Easy. If you place your faith in the wrong thing, it fails.
Skydiving is relatively safe. It's easy to focus on the risk of failure, but what about the probabilities of success? In 2010, fatalities occurred within an estimated 3 million jumps. That's a 99.9 percent safety record.
When we jump out of the airplane of faith, faulty thinking can land us in the wrong spot.
Biblically we are taught to put our trust in God and not man, nor the things of this world. With a few of my own unsaved friends and family, they tend to look at my material possessions and way of living and begin to search for evidence of this Christ that I've chosen to follow.
What I love about this book is the many ways the author illustrates how to carry on conversations with those who are skeptics of God and of our faith. One of my favorites:
Author: "My faith depends on solid evidence and rationale. It's like skydiving. There's lots of evidence to suggest that I'll live when I jump from a plane.
Skeptic: "Religious faith, by definition is purely subjective and is not supported by evidence. You're confusing faith and facts, religion and science.
Author: "But, my faith is supported by evidence. After all, it's my faith, my way of doing things. I would never place my faith in Christ unless there were plenty of evidence and arguments for doing so. I'm interested in an "informed" faith, not blind faith. And your not really in a position to tell me otherwise.
The author suggests that we remind skeptics that it's our faith, not theirs.
As for that college student Andrew's encounter with skydiving, his faith failed him miserably. Andrew and his friends were in the mood for some high-flying, exhuberant adventure and skydiving was just the ticket to test their manhood.
Andrew set up the whole adventure, working out all the details: cost, reservations, the chosen day of the event. But, what Andrew wasn't counting on was a sleepless night of tossing and turning and wondering if he really could jump out of an airplane successfully.
Once they arrived at their destination, each of the friends were given an instructor, and, let's just say, Andrew wasn't feeling too comfortable with his instructor. The man looked like a dead-head from the sixites: long gray beard, dressed in a t-shirt with a marijuana leaf emblazzoned on it and appearing as if he should be toting a can of beer and a cigarette.
Andrew backed down from jumping that day. He ended up taking pictures of his friends jump, as each one fell from the sky one by one in their colorful chutes. To this day, his friends never fail to bring up how Andrew, who set up this whole parade, would wimp out in the end.
Andrew commented that he still thinks about that day and how his faith failed him.
One of the great mysteries in life is how we approach those tests and trials that come our way. We can either use them to build up our faith in God, or we can let our faith fail miserably. I'm sure somewhere down the line you've heard the expression, "You can't have a testimony to give without first having a test." Some of the greatest witnesses are those who battled mightily through a struggle. If you want to be a great witness to others of the greatness of God, you have to first accept that trial or test and choose faith in God to deliver you from it.
But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)