“Lisa, let’s go jump off that rock,” I said. With only a tiny bit of hesitation and in her Southern Louisiana accent that’s most prominent after a White Claw, she said, “Ok, let’s go.” We swam over to Elephant Rock in the emerald waters of Beaver Lake in Eureka Springs, Arkansas like pros. In her elegant Ralph Lauren swimsuit, fancy pants sunglasses and an arm full of JL PARISH’S Personalized JOY Collection bracelets, she took the first step up a very busy and slippery rock. We made it to the top with other people, kids and adults, jumping off, and Lisa looked over at me and said, “You ready?” And, I stood there, chunky but cute in my one piece, sidestroke swimsuit scared for my life. I just froze up. I could not move. I said, “Lisa, OMG, what was I thinking? This is high. I’m so anxious, I’m dizzy.” She said, “Well, ok, I know you want to do this. But, I don’t want to push you. I’m going in.” And, there Ralph Lauren’s next runway model, Lisa Buchanan, plunged into the water with both elegance and reckless abandon while the eight year old beside me was showing me how it would be easier to back flip off the rock. Lord. Jesus. Be. A. Fence.
Before my next anxious thought floated into consciousness, the eight year old dare devil’s dad hollers, “Climbing back down is not your best option.” Then, he jumps off the rock with his dog. By this time, Lisa has popped out of the water totally exhilarated and is swimming back to the boat to check on her son. And, here I am on Elephant Rock, scared to pieces. I want to jump. But, I am fearFULL. “What if I go down and never come back up, I thought” Then, I hear the mother of the eight year old dare devil and wife of the Dad and owner of the dog who dove in moments earlier say, “Take my son’s lifejacket. If you have it on, you’ll only go about three feet under the water.” I turned to him, and he looked at me so pitifully and handed over his lifejacket. I put it on, and, by the absolute grace of God above, it snapped (barely, might I so humbly add). I stood there a bit longer, overcome with fear, so dizzy that I’d lost sight of the mom who’d been making the necessary provisions for me to safely jump into the water.
Before I know it, carefully climbing up beside me was the mom- blonde, beautiful, salt of the earth, Florida mama by way of Wisconsin. She looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “Look, I know you want to do this. Hold my hand, and we’ll do this together. Me and you.” And, I didn’t have time to think about the pandemic or the fact that we were not only not six feet apart but that we were touching. Heaven help, we were hand in hand. This goes completely against everything the Center for Disease Control has instructed us to do since the start of the pandemic. Y’all know I’m a rule follower.
We walked to the edge of that rock. I confessed all my sins (not aloud, don’t worry). And, we plunged into the water. I came out born again- dead to the fear that paralyzed me on top of the rock and alive in the newness of hope and victory that can only come from the Almighty. Everyone on the rock and in the water exploded with cheer as I came up. I was all smiles, relief and deep gratitude for everyone involved in helping me take the plunge. It will be a memory I hold onto for a very long time.
In that memory, there also lies a great lesson. When life is out of control and downright scary, fear isn’t the answer- faith is. Our faith is in a BIG God who knows our hopes and fears, has love for us that goes deeper than the roots of an old East Texas Pine and his grace and mercy, well, they’re without end.
During the pandemic, while sheltering in place, I’d wake up in the night thanking God for his provision. Not knowing when normal life would resume, I activated my faith for what the future would hold by recounting the things God had brought me, my family and friends though. It was a declaration of gratitude but also a dawning of His faithfulness. If He brought me out of all these things, surely he’ll bring me out of this, too. I know this because I know God’s character- He is faithful.
Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” The words are so simple, so sweet, so true. We are His workmanship. We are valuable to Him. Do not fear.
Beloved friends of JL PARISH, I hope you’ll take this message to heart and join me in recounting all the times God proved his faithfulness in your lives. I promise, your heart will be so full of gratitude that fear has no other option but to take a back seat to your faith. Fear and faith cannot co-exist. We choose one over the other. Today, I choose faith. I hope you will, too.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. A portion of the proceeds from every Sparrow Project purchase will benefit Women Called Moses and their care to victims of domestic violence. For more information on the Sparrow Project, visit jlparish.com.