Being connected to God could lead to serving in places you never imagined.
My heart pounded as a tiny plane flew 14 people to 17,500 feet, but we weren't passengers for long. Jason, my tandem-skydiving instructor sat directly behind me and said, "Oh no, I grabbed the large harness for you instead of the small one!" I turned to glare at him as best I could. "I'm just kidding," he remarked, tightening the harness that connected us.
When our time to jump arrived we squatted down at the door of the plane. We rocked back and forth and on the count of three flung ourselves out the opening. As my friends watched, anticipating their turns, they said it looked like I had been sucked out of the aircraft door.
Falling at 120 mph didn't feel the way I thought it would. I was ready for that stomach in your throat feeling, like when you head down a steep hill on a rollercoaster. Instead I felt like I was flying. We fell for about a minute before the parachute jerked my entire body upright. For five minutes I enjoyed the incredible view of the mountains to the west of Longmont, Colo. Then, before I knew it, I was on the ground.
The thought, I can't believe I jumped out of a plane, ran through my mind for the rest of the day.
Only hours before I went skydiving I, in a sense, had flung myself out the opening of a secure and comfortable place in my life. That morning I sat around a table with co-workers and announced I'd be leaving my editorial magazine position to pursue full-time youth ministry in Europe.
Nervous, excited thoughts filled my mind: I can't believe I just announced my job resignation to pursue missions.
I'm not sure which act scared me more — skydiving or officially resigning from my job. In both situations I got to a certain point where I knew I couldn't turn back. One is called tandem skydiving; the other I call tandem living — being so closely connected to God you can't help but go where He wants you to go.
Maybe you've heard the word tandem before. Webster defines it as "in partnership or conjunction." Tandem skydiving with Jason involved being connected to him through a harness and going where he went. Living in tandem with God means putting my life in His hands and having faith in our connection. For me, jumping involves leaving my secure job and home to use my gifts and talents to serve youth in Austria, and possibly all over Europe with Greater Europe Mission.
The dream God has called me to be a part of is to partner with nationals to create a teen magazine and possibly a website that communicates truth in a relevant way. In Austria, less than 1 percent of the country's population is evangelical Christian. There are many who know religion but few who truly have a relationship with God. To hand truth to European youth in a form they can relate to could be a way God desires to shift the hearts of a culture otherwise hardened toward Him.
How did I get here? If you had told me even three or four years ago that I'd be moving to Austria to serve, I would have said you were out of your mind. God brought me to this point one step at a time, until it seemed like the obvious path to take.
He gave me a heart for writing at a young age, which led to pursuing journalism in college and eventually serving on a Christian teen magazine staff. He allowed incredible youth leaders to influence my life during high school, which led to my passion for investing in youth. He gave me missions experiences in Europe, South America and in the U.S. to grow my heart in serving people of other cultures and nationalities. Each opportunity and experience has built toward this moment.
Ready 1, 2, 3
Circumstances alone weren't the deciding factor in serving overseas; He also used Scripture to help me get to the edge, ready to jump. About two years ago I began to dig in the book of Nehemiah. I had read this book once or twice, but then went right into Esther and didn't think much more of this guy's story.
This time around Nehemiah became one of my heroes in the faith. He had a tandem-living connection with God. What really struck me about Nehemiah's story was that God had given him a heart to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This was a huge dream and task that one man couldn't possibly do by himself.
Yet, Nehemiah saw his position as cupbearer to the king (someone who tested the king's wine to make sure it wasn't poisoned; a highly trusted individual) as providential. He had access to the king, even though asking him for help with this project could mean death.
Finally the moment came and the king asked Nehemiah why he looked so sad. (You were never supposed to look sad in front of the king.)
"I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, 'May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?'
"The king said to me, 'What is it you want?'
"Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, 'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so I can rebuild it'" (Nehemiah 2:2-5).
The king not only sent Nehemiah, but also equipped him in every way he could to get the job done. This guy had a huge God-sized dream, and it's as if he made his way to the edge and flung himself out the opening of security. He risked his job, reputation and even his life. But he lived in connection with God — especially through prayer — and he knew this was that next step. He made the connections and jumped into 52 days of hard work to get the wall of Jerusalem rebuilt.
God sent Nehemiah back to his own country to serve as a leader. He's sending me to Austria. Where could tandem living take you? Maybe to be an inner-city teacher, husband or wife, a corporate business person, a stay-at-home mom; maybe to live in Africa, South America or in a U.S. subdivision where you get to know your neighbors; maybe to mentor a teen girl, serve at a homeless shelter or write songs for Sunday morning worship at your church.
The jump to Austria didn't come overnight. God used His Word, people, circumstances, the Holy Spirit and many months of prayer. Here are a few questions I asked myself through the process:
How's my connection? To know I wasn't out of my mind in making this jump I had to evaluate what type of connection I had with God. Did I spend time with Him? Was spending time with Him more than a routine? Did we have an intimate relationship?
What are those 1, 2, 3 steps that got me here? God used my experiences, heart, passions and abilities to lead me to the next step. What were those steps in my life that God used to lead me to the edge? How is He using Scripture, prayer and the Holy Spirit to prepare me to jump?
Am I ready? I couldn't ever really be ready to take a jump of faith. But I needed to be prepared for God to turn my world upside-down. Some days it feels like that stomach-in-your-throat feeling, but that isn't how God intends it. Tandem living with Him is supposed to feel more like flying. He's just waiting for me to let go.
Copyright 2007 Krishana Kraft. All rights reserved.