I’ve been so affected by my skydiving adventure in so many positive ways. Metaphors and analogies for life keep coming up.
So, I jumped for the first time about 2 weeks ago. And I’ve already purchased my second jump to be scheduled in the near future. I love it so much! I think I’d even like to jump solo one day.
In skydiving school, you have to jump tandem - that’s with an instructor strapped to your back - twice before you can jump solo. And before you can jump solo, you must go through simulation or practice on the ground. You learn how to pull the parachute straps in order to head in the right direction to your landing destination, and also to slow down your pace if you’re moving too quickly. You are taught how to get a lay of the land in order to spot your landing - your target.
So, I’m thinking on this solo jump thing and going through all the reasons why I could feel confident to doing it. The first thing to note is that a coach (that’s what they call them at the school) is with you as you jump. That coach hangs onto you as you jump to direct you during the free-fall. That’s reassuring. That coach has been-there-done-that thousands of times and knows exactly what to do to get you back on track if you’re not doing it right. Which, “not doing is right” is very possible for a first-time solo jumper because you don’t know what you haven’t yet experienced. So, you have no idea what obstacles lay ahead. And you may not even understand what it might take for course correction.
For example, in episode 88 - Skydiving is Adventure Therapy: Part 1, I told you that in the free-fall you’re instructed to bend your elbows and hold your arms next to your face, kind of like a cactus. But if you put your hands out in front of you, like superman, you would go backwards. That’s helpful information, I’m told, if you get separated from your tandem instructor…who has the only parachute you’ll need to get back to the ground safely. I’m sure they were just pulling my leg on that one. But when you’re solo jumping, knowing those kinds of maneuvers could come in handy.
So, the only thing I could think of that wouldn’t make me feel so confident about jumping solo would be the possibility of not making a landing where I was supposed to. Missing the mark. And perhaps even land somewhere outside of their grounds, like in a nearby field.
But I did check with the school about this and they told me that if a skydiver misses the landing mark, they send someone in a four-wheeler to go pick them up. The instructor told me that in their on-the-ground training practice you’re taught how handle those situations. He also said, “We know when they’re not headed in the right direction. We have our eyes on every one of the skydivers and we’re watching the direction they’re headed.”
A friend of mine just shared a story about a strange man who came walking up their long dirt road. Her husband and son walked out to meet him. It turns out that his buddy had jumped out of an airplane practicing a military exercise but had miscalculated his jump and missed his landing target and ended up in their pasture. Real life…this guy came looking for his buddy.
So, now I know that if I did miss the mark, 1) It wouldn’t be the first time someone did it, 2) someone would come looking for me and bring me back, and 3) it would give me the exact point of my ineptness as a skydiver, allowing me more on-the-ground practice in order to better maneuver myself in the air for a successful target landing the next time.
So, am I going to jump solo sometime in the future? I am getting closer and closer to a “yes”!
But let me tell you why this is more than just an encouragement to push myself passed my fears to accomplish a lifetime achievement. It’s because this is exactly how I’ve been feeling spiritually, too. We often find out that whatever is transpiring or showing up in our physical and/or emotional life, is also showing up in our spiritual life. I often tell my coaching clients that the health of their relationships with others is a direct reflection of their relationship with God. So, for me to be concerned about missing the mark in the skydiving landing is a great prompting for me to pause and see if I’m missing the mark in my spiritual life.
So, what on earth would that look like? Could we agree that missing the mark is the opposite of hitting the target? Most scholars would agree that “missing the mark,” biblically speaking, means sinning - a failure on our part to live according to God’s standards. Sin is anything that gets my eyes off of the mark and causes me to not hit the intended target. More importantly, we need to understand that this failure to live as God has called us to is intentional; when we deliberately choose to set aside God’s direction for us.
This is the Christian’s struggle, as the Apostle Paul said, because we don’t do what we really want to do, and instead do what we hate. We deliberately choose to sin. This is what I find in my own life. How about you? I wish I wasn’t a sinner. I wish I did what I really want to do…but I don’t. Not all the time. So, spiritually speaking, hitting the target would be to look more like Christ and less like me. And perhaps that’s the instruction we need, right, how to look more like Him and less like our sinful selves. We need to know how to hit that target more and more in our daily lives.
In Philippians 3 verses 8 through 11 the Apostle Paul begins by saying that his only goal is to gain Christ and be found in Him. Verse 10 in the Amplified (one of my favorites to have memorized) says, “For my determined purpose is to know Him. To progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him; Perceiving, recognizing, and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.” So, Paul is saying that this is the goal. This is the center of the target. To know God intimately and to be walking with Him in our daily lives.
Then in verses 12 through 14 he goes on to say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is saying that he’s trying to do this. He’s practicing his maneuvers in order to make it his own. He’s trying to find those spots of weakness in his spiritual walk so that he can course correct so that eventually it will be a natural part of his daily life and he won’t even have to think about it. He’s also saying that he’s purposefullyforgetting the fact that he had missed the target in the past. That’s not going to keep him from trying to know God and walk with him the next day. He’s got a lay of the land. He knows what the target looks like and he’s moving towards it, not away from it.
Paul is keeping his eye on the center of that target. He knows where it is so that he can continue to move towards it. I’ve mentioned this in an episode before, when you’re driving a vehicle, you must keep your eyes fixed in front of you so that you don’t veer off the road. It’s an interesting fact that your hands, while placed on the wheel, will follow where your eyes go. This is why Paul urged believers to keep their eyes focused on that future goal - to hit the target, a bullseye - instead of looking back at their past where they had been in their former life.
I remember when I was running track in elementary school. It was one thing these long, lanky legs were good for. I was running the mile, and the rudimentary course was the baseball field and I was breaking a record. Big stuff for an elementary kid. On my last lap, the track coach told me to keep my eyes on the far corner of the backstop - that tall fence behind home plate that protects people from wayward balls. As I whizzed by He said, “Keep your eyes right on that spot and don’t look anywhere else.” And He kept yelling, “Don’t look back at the other runners. Keep your eyes straight ahead.” He knew that my legs would take me in a straight path to that finish line if I would keep my eyes on that target.
Wherever or whatever your eyes are fixed on, that’s where you’ll end up. The only way you can miss the target is if your attention is drawn away from it. If your attention and focus is constantly on the target, if you’re constantly scanning the land for it, then there’s no way you can miss it.
So, again, how do we keep our attention and focus on following Jesus such that we come to look more like Him than ourselves? We practice our maneuvers. Seriously. When we are in the habit of repenting from our sins, committing ourselves to Him and His ways, trusting in His power and love to change us, then we can have the confidence that every time we try to hit the target we’ll get closer and closer to a bullseye each time. Pursuing Jesus, being determined to know Him more, walking in His light and grace and His love is pressing toward that mark.
Friend, if you want to make sure you’re not missing the mark, that you’re hitting that target, then you must make sure you are pursuing Christ in your daily life. It’s just a choice you need to make. A determined purpose. You are practicing hitting the center of that target every day. Some days you’ll come closer to the bullseye than others. But you’re becoming more and more skilled at making the right maneuvers for course correction and learning how to overcome obstacles as you go. You’ve got this!
If you feel like you’re missing the target more than you’re landing on it, let me suggest that, just like in skydiving, a coach is just what you need to come alongside you to make sure you hit the center of that target as much as possible. I’d love to be your Life Coach and be that someone who would come looking for you and bring you back if you did miss the mark.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.
Also, don’t forget click the link in the show notes to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. It has a few prompt questions that will help you personally work through some of the things I’ve talked about today. It’s like a little life coaching at home.
By the way, if you’re in the Houston area, Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon is where I went. Love the people there!
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.