"Jump Sanders jump!" The cry came from below. Where I'm from, first names were forfeited when you started playing sports. “You might as well jump!” my buddies insisted. They were not quoting Van Halen, but instead they were prodding me to drop fifty feet into a murky abyss. How in the world did I get here?

The ascent began by climbing past the, “danger-do not enter” and “jumping prohibited signs.” I then shimmied onto the twelve inch ledge. As I “white-knuckled” the chain-link fence crowned with the convict controlling barbed wire, which was designed to be the final persuasion to the jumping prohibition, I steadied myself onto the narrow ledge. If getting to the ledge was not hard enough, I had a new set of challenges. I had to shuffle out to clear the ominous concrete walls of the dam’s spillway that stood as guard between the massive lake and the land. The last harrowing feat would be to jump out far enough to clear the tenacious tree that grew out of the dark danger. Everything seems easier from the ground. I crouched on the edge and contemplated my options.

"I know," I thought, "I'll crawl back down." But, I had over committed. Returning was now more dangerous than jumping. Also, my tender teenage ego could not endure the relentless ridicule I would face from my friends. I would rather die than to face the endless sarcastic bantering from my band of merciless men. After rejecting my only other option, I was left with the inevitable.

Jumping meant total commitment, complete surrender from the security of my perch. There was only one way down at this point, do or die. Will the water catch me? I have to jump. I am going to jump. I jumped. Oh water, please save me! After a great crash, the thrill ride was over. Note to self: next time, point your toes down - man my feet hurt.

Fast-forward a few years, and I now see myself on another inescapable ledge. No longer am I a rebellious adolescent, but rather a young twenty-something-soon-to-be father, lying in bed next to my beautiful bride. I have run out of places to hide, I am on the ledge, and wondering how did I get here? Life has hemmed me in, and the road has seemed to run out. I can no longer escape my grief, sorrow and regret. No outer measure of success has rebuilt the broken home I grew up in. No substance can drown the memories of an abusive stepfather. I cannot get high enough to compensate for how low grief has kept me after my father’s suicide. What am I going to do?

Through my dark emotional struggle, I heard the gentle voice of the Lord Jesus. “Jump,” He seemed to say. It was not an audible voice rather a very deep impressive thought.

“Lord you know I have committed to you in the past and I have failed miserably,” I prayed.

“You have only sought Me in escape from eternal torment. You have never surrendered to Me as Lord. Jump Mike!” the gracious response returned. Jumping would require letting go and completely surrendering.

Jumping would require total commitment. Once I jump, there is no going back. If I let loose, what will happen?

“Jump! Let go of everything, and I will catch you,” the Lord continued. While wrestling with deep and overwhelming conviction of sin, I cried to the Lord as I jumped, “Save me or kill me, but I will not stay on this ledge.” I stepped off the ledge of my past life and jumped into the unknown waters of total surrender.

God caught me. Jumping meant that I let go of everything. My regret, pain, and past, were abandoned as I submitted myself to God. I found the power to live just past surrender. I discovered life comes from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As long as I thought Him an escape from punishment without a relationship, I could never be free. When I accepted Him as Lord, I entered into a loving relationship.

Jesus surrendered to humanity 2000 years ago when He died for our sins. He paid a sin debt He did not owe, and that we guilty humans could never pay. Jesus gave His all to purchase our freedom so we may have a relationship with Him. Let me encourage you today. Jump! Simply ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Savior and Lord. Jump!

 Mike Sanders