There is this bridge I cross over every day.
Every day, I’m tempted to jump.
Before you jump to conclusions (pun intended), I’d like to explain.
Outside our local town, there is an old weathered welcome sign, and underneath it hangs a small plaque that shows the town’s population is 546 people. Either the faded paint of the sign suggests someone has forgotten to change it, or the circle of life is no longer operating smoothly in Northern Iowa. Either way, I’m okay with it.
The reason is, I don’t want the town to change. Although it bustles with people rushing to get the day before them accomplished, everyone will put their schedules on the back burner to stop and chat a while. In my busy day, my trips to the bank, post office, and library are more than running errands. They are a therapy. A needed break from the day’s chaotic routine.
Today is no different than the other days. I talk on my phone as I drive the five miles into town, hardly noticing the 4020 tractor barely managing to pull a 16 row disc across the field or the neighbor on his Snapper lawnmower attempting to swath hay in the ditches. My throat is dry and I think how awesome a Pepsi would taste from the vending machine next to the bank. Taking my foot off the accelerator, I coast around the S-curves, past the beautiful park, and across the bridge toward main street.
And a thought enters my mind.
I want to jump.
Today, there are people milling by the side rails, their tanned skin glistening wet from the river water below. I watch as a small boy carefully climbs onto the concrete sides, gripping the hand rails in fear, while pausing to gather enough nerve to take the plunge. He glances nervously back at his peers, stares down at the river below, and jumps. He springs himself forward and away from the concrete pillars supporting the bridge, holding his nose with one hand while the other is raised above him in a celebration. Everyone cheers as his head emerges from the murky water, the hair on his head plastered to his forehead and a huge smile stretches from ear to ear.
I’ve never jumped.
No, I’ve crossed over that bridge countless times, wishing that I could. I’ve longed for that feeling of sheer exuberance as I launch myself into the refreshing water. Every day, I tell myself, I’ll do it some other time. Every day, I don’t.
I’m going to jump.
It’s only a bridge. And yet it stands for so much more. Too often, I’ve allowed this same attitude of uncertainty to encompass my life. I remember once when I felt the gentle nudge to get involved with mission work. Another time, I felt asked to reach out to a friend who was struggling to stay away from the world of drinking and drugs.
And each time, I found an excuse to not let go of the railing. Each time, I didn’t take the plunge because of a spirit of unwillingness and doubt.
While getting my Pepsi outside the bank, I began thinking about the latest area God had been asking me to take some steps in faith. “You know that nice girl who you’ve got wrapped around your heart?” He said. “Maybe it’s time you ask for her hand in marriage.”
I hung onto the side rails and asked, “But who’ll catch me?”
“Take the plunge. I’ll catch you,” I heard Him say.
That was almost six months ago.
Today, I’m a lucky man with more blessings than I deserve. But my favorite blessing came when I finally decided to take the plunge. In a large church on the east coast, with five hundred people to bear witness, I said two words to the most beautiful girl in the world.
I took the plunge.