Today is National Airborne Day. That’s right, 78 years ago on August 16, 1940, the U.S. Army conducted it’s first parachute jump in Fort Benning, Georgia. And for those of you who don’t know, I use to be a Paratrooper (2006-2010). Yes, I would jump out of perfectly good airplanes…and I loved it! Here are some lessons I learned as a paratrooper:
- You never jump on your own – Every time I jumped, I did so on command. I never jumped on my own initiative. I never decided when it was best to get out of that airplane. No, I waited for a command: “Stand Up…Hook Up…Go!” And then, you better go! As you can imagine, these are intensely adrenaline-filled moments. And you realize in those moments that commands matter, leadership matters, and your parachute opening like it’s supposed to really matters!
- You never jump alone – Every time I jumped, I was with others. I was with my unit. I was with my team. So, we got scared together. We got excited together. But we always jumped together. You know, there’s something extremely motivating and rewarding when you’re part of that jump group. You realize in those moments that you’re not just an individual. No, you’re part of a team with a singular purpose and mission.
- You never jump till your shown – Jumping out of an airplane takes training, practice, and regular reminders of what to do and (perhaps more importantly) what not to do. No one ever completes a jump successfully without being shown how to do it first. These moments, either in Jump School at Ft. Benning, or during training with your unit, are humbling times and important times. You realize in those moments that preparation and practice really matter…your life might even depend on it!
Now, think about our mission as Jesus Followers. Jesus told us plainly: “Make disciples.” So, the command has been given. Will you obey? Will you jump out of the proverbial airplane and do the work that God has commanded you to do? If you do, there’s no need to fear. Why? Because you aren’t alone in this task. Jesus Himself has promised to be with you “till the end of the age.” Also, for many of us, we are part of a fantastic team, the local church, in which we get to do this mission of making disciples with others who can help, motivate, and encourage us along the way. And to top it all off, Jesus Himself has shown us how to do this task of making disciples. Yes, we get a lesson from the Master Teacher Himself! Need a refresher course? Check out John 4 for starters 🙂