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I've never jumped off a cliff...a real one, that is. The closest I've come is a swimming pool high dive. That was bad enough. Although, have you ever noticed that falling is not the worst part of the whole experience? The worst part is standing at the top, looking down thinking about jumping. In fact, sometimes, thinking about jumping is worse than the actual experience of doing it.

Almost all of last year I spent thinking about jumping. I was feeling led to go back to school. And not just any school, but a school that happened to be four hours from our home. It would be a huge leap of faith for our family. But as my husband and I continued to feel like it was where God was leading, I went ahead and applied...and got accepted.

But getting accepted was only half the battle. Next we had to decide if we were going. And all we needed to do was sell a house in a bad market, buy a house in an unaffordable location, find a job in a failing economy, pack up seventeen years of mysteriously accumulated stuff, throw the kids in the covered wagon, and move west. No problem.

Unfortunately, however, when August came and it was time to start classes, our house was unsold, we had no home in our new location, and no job had arrived on the scene. There were certainly no rose petals sprinkled on the diving board.

And yet, we still felt like God was telling us to jump. Only, it was clear that he was not going to line up all of our ducks in neat little rows and put checkmarks in all of our boxes, as we had hoped. And as we would experience in full color, this is sometimes how God works. Sometimes, he calls us to muster up every bit of courage and determination we have to step off the cliff of faith. Sometimes, he leaves boxes unchecked and as for those things we thought we needed, he leaves those remaining on our wish list. Sometimes he just tells us to jump and trust him.

After many months of agony looking with fear over the edge of the diving board with checklist in hand, we finally did jump. And as we thought, everything in our life was turned upside down. Not much looks the way we had thought or hoped or even prayed that it would look. God didn't confirm our step of faith by checking off our boxes nor has he made things easy. But we are more confident than ever that we are exactly where he wants us. And now, on the other side, we can see his checklist a little more clearly. A list that consists of things like faith, trust, character, courage, dependence. These are the things God is most interested in accomplishing in our lives. Yes, he knows our needs. And yes, he meets them. But not always in the way we expect him to. And sometimes he gives us blessings that are not even on our list.

God is calling all of us. Calling us to a life of faith. Our leaps of faith will not look the same, but there are jumps he will call each of us to make. As we begin a brand new year, let's commit together to step out in faith in obedience to God’s call and teach our children to do the same. We may not find a path laden with rose petals, but I can guarantee you it will be sprinkled with trust, courage, and character, for those are the things God is committed to working out in our lives. One jump at a time.

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