If you’ve read this blog, you’ve seen the term acceptance elsewhere. I’d like to go deeper into its meaning, as well as its connection to the often misunderstood meekness. Come join me on my journey to accept acceptance.
A Leap of Faith
Every January, our young adult group holds a retreat to a far off camp called Lion King. For those not familiar with churchy words, retreat simply means getaway, a time to literally retreat from the moils and toils we Millennials affectionately call adulting. If only for a weekend, we bear the brunt of frigid winter (at least by Southern standards) to travel to the middle of nowhere—somewhat like the Hebrews on their own wilderness trip to encounter God.
Now the middle of nowhere is the best place for a retreat. There we can enjoy that mythical legend many call silence. It’s a curious state, where even the wind has shut down and not even the loudest bird tweets. There’s barely any signal out here to tweet anyway, but that’s part of the camp’s charm. Instead, all you hear is your own breath, maybe your own thoughts, never your own phone. Could Eden have had a spot like this?
Now we do play games and share laughter, but like the Israelites would, one night we gather around a flaming fire and worship God. But instead of the ancient bull and goat sacrifices, our sacrifices are songs: praises and worship music with minimal instrumentation but full accompaniment of spiritual joy. It’s a celebration we enjoy after we’ve bundled up for the cold and eaten our s’mores, licked our fingers clean of chocolate and felt the warmth of the fire’s caress. And because we are so far away from the cities, more stars in the sky appear to us; more of the Heavenly Host join us in our praises of God.
It really is a wonderful thing to retreat with the Church, my friends and family. We learn a bit more about each other when sharing those rigid bunk beds, when lounging in the den in our joggers and old T-shirts, when biking around in the woods and potentially getting lost. We even learn some of us are a little more bold and take a dip in the cold of the camp’s chilled lake.
Well, this was more than a dip. The above was taken after I jumped off a platform some 30 feet high. The platform and jump are both called “the Leap of Faith” and it’s a yearly tradition for at least one of us to take the dive. The previous year I watched as a few of my buddies did it, which had me wishing throughout 2019 that I had braved it as well. I told my friend, the pastor of the young adults, that I wanted 2020 to be my year to do it. What I didn’t tell him was I don’t swim well. Honestly, I can barely keep my head above the water. But that’s part of faith, right?
I remember climbing up the steps to the platform, my bare feet sensitive to the splintery wood. And I was very chilly, since I only wore trunks and a life jacket. Honestly I was a little embarrassed how I looked, and as several friends gathered around to watch me jump, I started to doubt I was ready for the leap. I didn’t feel I was in the greatest shape, and I could swim as well as I could fly, and—now at the edge of the platform with my toes dangling over—the doubt grew like my shivers did.
I remember my friend saying, “Just jump.”
He no doubt saw me in my nervous dance as I tried to both figure out how to jump and how to escape. And still no one knew I could swim as well as a brick. I considered confessing, but the stubborn man in me hid the secret deeper. But the lake looked even deeper now.
I remember thinking, “Well, if I die, I know where I’ll wake up.” But that didn’t help. I remember asking my friend, “What if you push me?”
“Just do it,” he said. “Don’t think about it.”
That’s when I jumped. A hard, buttock-smacking splash, a blur of lights and sounds, and inhalation of what felt like a gallon of water later, I felt an arm grab me and drag me to the shore.
“What do you mean you don’t know how to swim?!” I heard someone new say.