My Leap of Life

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You’re caught in a blinding blizzard and you reach the edge of a cliff. The way back is death. The way forward is unknowable. And so you leap, hoping—without evidence—that you will land on something, rather than plunge into the abyss.

To many this is what “leap of faith” (the term coined by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard) means. And it is why many apologists–defenders of rational faith–dislike the term. Nevertheless, I find myself returning to it again and again. Not only because it sharply describes my original “leap,” but because, as a hysterical skeptic prone to bouts of emotional disbelief (fearing that what I believe is simply too wonderful to be true), I remake the leap almost daily.

But is it rational? Francis Schaeffer, the 20th century theologian whose apologetics were of great help to me in the shaky early days of my faith (I once made a pilgrimage to his remote retreat center L’Abri high in the Swiss Alps), disliked the term. And yet his very reason for disliking it, I believe, redeems it. The true believer, he says, makes a leap that looks more like this:

Caught in a blizzard, you reach the edge of a cliff. But while the way forward is un-seeable, it is not unknowable. Because through the dense fog a seasoned Mountaineer calls out to you, assuring you that a ledge is within reach. If you jump, he says, you will be saved. You trust him because he offers evidence that he is who he says he is. Thus your leap is rational. And the way back is, after all, death.

There are two kinds of evidence: the first, empirical, that which can be observed with the senses; the second, testimony, i.e. witnesses, what the legal system depends upon. The more witnesses, the better. But of even greater importance is the quality of the witnesses. 40 years ago, I began reading the New Testament and found within in its pages witnesses (Peter, Paul, James, John, et al) of great character. Their wisdom and humility were profound. And yet each deferred to an even greater witness, the Mountaineer who’d called them to make their leap. The Mountaineer’s own words and character burned a hole in my skeptic’s heart, causing His light and life to pour in.

shutterstock_671025And so I leaped.

I have never regretted it. Because it wasn’t just a leap of faith, it was a leap of life, a leap away from the death that lay behind. And forward toward the life of hope, purpose, and love…

…that lay ahead.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to My Leap of Life

  1. cwhite4 says:

    Really enjoyed this. Thanks!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. socialbridge says:

    Even though I’m poles apart from you on this matter, I enjoyed this post as it gives me some insight into the leaping. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The photos are exceptional. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post!!!

    I can be wrong but I think it was CS Lewis that confronted a similar situation in which logical reasoning took him far enough to a point when all he had to do was to take that leap of faith and belief…Faith is reasonable and we know that we can know about God through reason, as socrates and many other philosophers demonstrated but as finite creatures there is a limit to our abilities to understand this supreme being who is existence itself and thats where we need divine revelation…to know not only that there is God but that God is Love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” ~from Surprised by Joy. Have you read it? Lewis rather disliked the term “leap of faith,” though, for more-or-less the same reasons as Schaeffer.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. dawnlizjones says:

    I would agree that there are leaps of faith; the Bible itself is replete with them. But I don’t believe, as you seem to be saying here, that Jesus ever calls us to a truly BLIND leap of faith, since His character is more than sufficient. Brilliant, and beautifully written testimony. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Your journey to faith, begun with that one hopeful leap, is quite different than mine. I grew up in a Christian home and chose to have Jesus in my life while still a child. For me, faith was just a baby step into accepting what was already being lived out in my home. I so appreciate those who, as teenagers or adults, did the hard work of searching for God and evaluating Christianity before making the choice. Your renaming “leap of faith” to “leap of life” is perfect, Mitch. Those of us who know Jesus do live an enhanced life of countless benefits and blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

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  10. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    “The Mountaineer’s words burned a hole in my heart, causing his light and life to pour in.” Seemed like the right time to share this again.

    Like

  11. Thank you for sharing your writing ministry ! On my blog, I often refer to faith as a ” heart decision ” rather than intellectual. There is a scripture about faith and belief and the unseen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      I agree, Rick, although the use of the word “heart” in relation to conversion is often misunderstood to mean “a factually baseless emotional” decision–which is not what I mean–so I’m leery about using the word.

      Like

  12. H.M. Davis says:

    “… as a hysterical skeptic prone to bouts of emotional disbelief (fearing that what I believe is simply too wonderful to be true), I remake the leap almost daily…”

    Describes me perfectly, and I find myself returning again and again to Peter’s question, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You might be interest to check out Father Robert Spitzer–he’s a scientist (astronomer or physicist I think?) & philosopher. He’s recently been publishing a series of books, ive only read the first–“the souls upward yearning”–in it he goes through various evidence in philosophy and science that reveals that there is more proof for the existence of God than for not (in other texts he gets heavy into the Big Bang theory and in detail, i.e. through each formula, and other contemporary findings to show how they in fact point to what everything else points to: there must be an omnipotent conscious being)… really really interesting stuff, BUT VERY VERY DENSE! (There’s a reason I have yet to start the next book in the series. Either way, check him out, he’s super cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. cindy knoke says:

    Inspiring & uplifting~

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Leap of life indeed! Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I understand completely… Never regretted it here either! 👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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