Friday, August 08, 2003

A Leap of Faith

With about thirty minutes of day light left we began to suit up. The first thing one puts on when preparing to conduct any airborne operation is the main chute. This is quite possibly the most hideously painful piece of equipment the US military has devised. Its harness runs over your shoulders, across your chest, between your legs and up your back. When properly tightened it threatens your ability to reproduce while simultaneously forcing you to fold mid-torso, as though you were trying to touch your chin to your navel. Then comes the reserve, tightened just enough to make you think you can breathe when in fact you can’t. Then your ruck sack, filled with thirty to forty pounds of stuff, most of which is designed for the specific combat purpose of weighing thirty to forty pounds, is hung on the same metal rings that hold your reserve in place, causing you to nearly lose consciousness because of the searing pain of everything crushing your collar bones. Once you’re all suited up you immediately make your way to the holding area where you quickly sit for at least 2 hours. At last the plane arrives and you attempt to stand and waddle to your place on board.

After a short flight everyone gets ready and when the green light comes on man after man files out the door into the night. Within four seconds, the main chute automatically deploys and the jumper decelerates from over 100 MPH to 0 MPH. This gives you the sensation of being strained peas and dooms the possibility of future parenthood. Forty-five seconds later you are on the ground checking your vital signs and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

The scariest part is the last 5 seconds in the plane. You don’t know if there’s actually a parachute in that bag on your back. It could be laundry or dishes. You just have to trust that the riggers packed a chute that will work. If you don’t have faith in your equipment you won’t be able to bring yourself to actually jump. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Because unless you trust him to do what he promised, you will never take that first step into the unknown. And you’ll never experience the exhilaration of risking your life for the Gospel.