Step Out – Jump In

 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

Matthew 14:29 

Step Out Jump In.

If your best friend jumped off of a bridge, would you?

I remember hearing this question as my best friend and sisters and I were not often, but occasionally, in need of a wise and correcting lecture. Of course this question stemmed from the fact that we were generally all in the same boat, in an essence “we all had jumped in together” though one of us had assuredly gone first.

And then one day my best friend Jamie and I actually did jump off a bridge. (Into a lake. While camping. Not incredibly large. A ton of fun. Note though still a bit a ton of trouble when the Moms found out.)

It is one of my favorite and most treasured memories. Climbing up to the top, standing on the edge side by side and then that last look as we stepped off. We could have taken on the whole world, at least we felt we could see the whole world from way up top. A few nerves, but no fear, not when your best friend is at your side. The sun shining and that water. Having the courage to jump led to the greatest of personal triumphs at the time. (Before the Moms found out that is- but that is not the moral we are going to discuss today.)

The moral of the story today is that sometimes in life, when Jesus calls us to come, we may not be stepping out of the boat in faith- but jumping out- in faith.

I graduated from OSU with a duel bachelor’s in Animal Science and Agricultural Business  and was blessed with an incredible job. It was hard work and long hours. But on the daily I enjoyed the work I did, enough. The people were great and we had fun when we could.

But something was missing. After two years having discussed, debated and weighed the possibility I was feeling a call to completely change my entire career, and education. All of it. After all of those years, still paying the student loans. Changes that would entail;

A dramatic decrease in my income.

A dramatic undertaking in my schedule.

A dramatic change… period.

From Agriculture to Ministry.

Soooo I dragged my feet. I assured myself I had misunderstood- I had misunderstood the call to come. He wouldn’t call me. I am not… (insert varying and lengthy list here of faults and failings). And then I would second these thoughts by recognizing all of the impossibilities; bills, location, education, finances, time… did I mention bills?

It was a really great rebuttal. I must say. Defense lawyer status 10/10.

Blessedly, though, I lost the case.

After three years I finally jumped out of the boat.

I jumped, not stepped. When I attempted to step out of the boat, I generally hesitated. And that hesitation usually caused me to bring my foot back in, running through my 10/10 rebuttal until God would bring me back around again. No as I stood there the moment came when I realized I had to jump, leaving no opportunity to turn back. If I was going in I had to go all in, full commitment.

And all the things I knew would happen- happened.

Dramatic change in income. Dramatic undertaking in my schedule. Dramatic changes all around- the expected and the unexpected.

And I had never been happier. I had never felt more on track. I had never felt more productive. Chasing the call. Leaving fear behind for freedom. I was significantly poorer and significantly busier. But- I was also significantly less burdened and significantly happier. Not abandoning my responsibilities; yet not deafening the call.

And so I have continued to step out of the boat when called, jumping if needed. Sometimes the process still entails my attempts at a rebuttal, but I with so many past experiences, it does not take quite as long for me to accept that I may be the one he is actually calling. It can be scary, but scary I believe is often just the darker connotation of unknown possibility, opportunity and excitement. Reaching for the stars is not easy, but to try and fail is fulfilling in a way that to not try at all could ever be.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set a new goal, or dream a new dream”. And seconded by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing…. I hope you live a life you’re proud of , and if you are not, I hope you have the courage to start over”.

That day on the bridge standing beside my best friend, I learned one of the greatest life lessons. I could of stood on that bridge forever (or at least until dinner time) and ran through hundreds of 10/10 rebuttals… but what possibility waited on the other side of the jump made all of them null. Stand on bridge vs. An adventure with my best friend? And the sooner I jumped, the sooner the adventure could begin.

I knew I wasn’t going in alone. Someone else was going to be there. And that someone… well I would have gone wherever the adventure took us, 100%. Today, Jamie and I’s adventures look a bit different- I look forward to the day we can compare notes. Meanwhile when I am called from time to time to jump, I know I am not called to jump alone.

Jesus will not call you to where he is not willing to be. The Creator of best friends- is your best friend- guarding your back, while being one step ahead…

But most importantly standing at your side turning to you with a smile and asking “Ready?”

 

At All Times

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

It is a strange thing, trying to live a life I had never imagined without you.

My dreams, path and plans have changed so many times- and often drastically- (And I now have six degrees and counting to prove it 🤷🏻‍♀️😂)

But there was always consistencies sewn into the possibilities.

And you were one of them. No matter where I went, what I did or who I became in my mind’s eye- you were right beside me at all times.

Up until 8 years ago I never foresaw this. This was never an option.

8 years later. Has it really been that long?

Everywhere and everything. You can be found in the small and mundane to the unexpected and extraordinary. 

Missing you has become a constant. You were always pretty missable.

Unfortunately there is no distance we can physically travel to get to where you are on our own. Lord knows, if there was, I (and several others who love you) would be on my way if I wasn’t already there.

Random song lyrics or just some old favorites. Movies I know you would love. Stories I hear of and think you would enjoy. Every moment spent in our once favorite store. 

And yes, there are still moments when the missing you attempts to cast a shadow. Moments when thoughts attempt to form and whisper doubt and fear and confusion.

And yet… I did say that those moments attempted to cast a shadow because when the missing you reaches the brink of unbearable, I am reminded to look up, and to take in the view.

Yes, bud, we miss you more than words can express. Lord knows, I have made every effort to get it down on paper. 8 years of efforts. Not possible thus far, but I’ll keep trying.

But don’t worry. Because the missing you instead of leaving me hopeless and beaten and broken- leaves me in a state of wonder. Because in the past 8 years God has enabled you to do some remarkable and marvel worthy things. And while I have been privileged to witness or participate in some, I realize there are so many which I cannot see or have not been revealed.

Where the world told us there was a period, God put a coma. Your story is far from over and your legacy is still in the establishing. And in those moments of remembrance, I hear God whispering

At all times.

He never left. There was never a moment he didn’t love me. Or didn’t love you. Or didn’t love all who we loved. His love is not negated by circumstance. It does not rise or fall depending on our actions or situation.

He loves at all times. And since we love because he first loved us, our love doesn’t end either- at least not without our permission.

We can get angry or disappointed and decide to cast our love aside, but it can never be taken from us without us first conceding it. And even then, I do not believe it would ever be fully gone.

A friend loves at all times. 

Bud, I hope you know how much I love you. You are still my back up. You are still the one pushing me forward. You are the still the one telling me to go, fearlessly, and if not able to go fearlessly- to go with the confidence of your full backing.

As I look back I can remember how distance had never been a problem. Friendship is not defined by distance nor can it be overthrown by distance. And if it didn’t matter states away or 5 minutes away, why would it matter heavens away? Space and time- Love spans both and I have grown to believe grows larger in proportion.

Your words from then give me hope. The laughter I can recall gives me courage. The faces and stories I share with our family and friends kindle my resilience. God has called us to a holy defiance- against every bit of darkness, dismay and despair. In the words of Samwise Gamgee – I am reminded there is still good in this world and it is worth fighting for. And you my friend continuously lead the way, your light and legacy shining ever the brighter.

Growing up without you here remains difficult. But after 8 years I can no longer claim to have lived these 8 years without you. I’ve made mistakes and I’ll probably make more. I still am not entirely sure on where I am headed though I am confident in the direction… I believe. And you have been with me every step of the way. In every prayer, thought and hope.

Amid the emotions that come along with today there is a foundational sense of triumph because my friend eight years ago I never thought I’d make it to today. I couldn’t imagine finding joy and God and you in this world again. Defeated. But God, God had other plans. God has proclaimed victory over a battle I never dreamed could be fought. 8 years ago the enemy thought he’d won. He didn’t anticipate the uprising God had in store. In the middle of the pain and sorrow I cannot help but feel a laugh emerging (you know one of those possibly inappropriately timed ones) because while the battle is not over the war has already been won. Meanwhile I am going to wake every morning with two missions:

1. Praise God and be continuously awestruck at His awesomeness.

2. Ruin Satan’s day all the time.

If I had been asked 8 years ago I would have guessed I was Jonathan and you were David, assuming David was the stronger of the two. As I study and write I find my assumption would have been wrong my friend. Most of us know of David’s victories and his God anointed destiny. But God did so much, he gave David more than we ever thought to imagine. David had a best friend. And just like you in my life, that made all the difference.

And that will be my life’s work. Founded on God and his goodness. On the love he imparts to his children. And on a friendship crafted into the heart and soul. I will tell the story. I will say (and mostly write) the words. At all times.

We celebrate your life today, a life that continues to leave a light and is as vibrant today as it was 8 years ago. Cheers my friend, this adventure is far from over and from what I hear- the view is worth every valley.

♥️ Jean Bean