What does it mean to take a “leap of faith”? The expression has classically been used to describe a Christian’s belief in God and the confidence in what they cannot see. But is that explanation really good enough? Does it truly capture the fear, the uncertainty, the agonizing conflict of thoughts and emotions a person experiences in their quest to know God? To those on the outside, it would seem even Christians don’t understand the popular term.
For Fr. Stephen Freeman though, understanding a “leap of faith” is quite simple. Freeman recalls the first time he used the diving board while in swim class. He was eight years old, and as he stood on the edge of the high dive, his fear of the leap conflicted greatly with the encouragement of his swim coach. Freeman stated that he was not sure what eventually convinced him to make the jump, but the eons he experienced on that board were no different than his journey to discover Christ. In a recent blog post, Freeman writes,
I have had mid-air collisions with the existence of God, His goodness, His kindness, His caring presence, the Church, Tradition, Scripture, forgiveness, and faith itself (to mention only a few). And with every encounter, though preceded by grace, there is some moment of the leap. The leap itself is, for me, sheer terror. I dread the existence of God at least as much as I dreaded the surface of the water itself. It may sound strange to dread the existence of God, except when you consider that His existence means the possible return to the diving board on a regular basis. Practice has never made it any easier.
Faith asks a great deal of the believer. Like a diving board, it sometimes leads us to the edge of insanity and asks us to take one more step. It is also why many choose not to pursue God, since they refuse to believe in something they see as absent. To the secular world, faith and ignorance can often go hand in hand. However, blogger Jennifer Maggio asserts that this is not true.
The very foundation of Christianity is faith. It takes great faith to believe God, that we’ve never seen, sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us. Our faith is what gives us the assurance that even though we cannot physically see God, he is with us. Our faith gives us the strength to push through the difficult times when it seems that everything on earth is caving down around us.
For my part, I am reminded of an old song I used to listen to when I was in high school. The title of the song was “Dive” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and though it’s fallen out of popularity over the years, the message in the music has stayed timeless. Chapman paints God as a mighty river, and we can either take a risk and dive in or retreat to safety. The song’s chorus pretty much says it all,
I’m diving in
I’m going deep
In over my head I wanna be
Caught in the rush
Lost in the flow
In over my head I wanna go
The River’s deep
The River’s wide
The River’s water is alive
So sink or swim
I’m diving in.
*Ryan Duncan is the culture editor for Crosswalk.com