My Leap of Life

06mynf99050115_gullfoss_.jpg

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 need to retake that 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 rational 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. And so you leap.

There are two kinds of evidence: the first, empirical, that which can be observed with the senses; the second, testimony, i.e. witnesses, the type of evidence the legal system depends upon. The more witnesses, the better. But of even greater importance is the quality of the witnesses. 43 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 of them deferred to an even greater witness, the Mountaineer who’d called them to leap. The Mountaineer’s own words and character burned a hole in my skeptical 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.

33 Responses to My Leap of Life

  1. I have this well-know quote at my desk: “Sometimes the only available transportation is a leap of faith!”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Well-known… ugh… typos…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your posts (when not humorous, and sometimes even then) are always so thoughtful and profound! This one is no exception. Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. sitting bull says:

    You raise a great point here, Mitch,
    yesterday I did discuss god with someone and we came to the conclusion that it is actually less about god than about faith.

    And since I am here, and you recently asked me about my knowledge of other spiritual disciplines, I remembered that I forgot to tell you that I was a Rosicrucian once, which does incorporate the entire package: * the cross is there,
    * belief in god (we were always asked to pray to the god of our heart),
    * and many ancient roots of our Abrahamic religions, like the Kabbalah, are also taught
    https://www.rosicrucian.org/
    I can guarantee that this is no cult, because I left 15 years ago and they never hassled me to stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Hi S.B. I’m quite familiar with the Rosicrucians, but will save that for another time.
      Actually, I’d say real faith it’s very much about God. Without the voice of the Mountaineer, the leap is, in fact, an irrational one. It’s God’s voice that guides me, God’s love that motivates me, and God (not I) who is the destination.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sitting bull says:

        What you say about your faith makes sense, since the inherent principle of faith is the unwavering focus on something, like god.
        My point was more to distinguish between faith and god, because I found out that without faith nothing is possible. I for example had my worst times when I lost faith in myself.
        I am just saying that, because I think it is easier to advertise faith to others than the exact faith one has, because everyone is different.
        Even within Christianity there are different shades of faith as three examples from strong traditional Christinas told me:
        * My Uncle (professer for church law) for example totally believes in the Church,
        * my mother totally in Madonna but not in heaven,
        * and a total orthodox Bible reader I know does neither believe in the church, nor in statues like Madonna or the cross.
        Yet all 3 of them strongly believe in our Christian god.
        I think it would be a waste of our emotional resources to argue about those details,
        but strengthen all of them if they agreed in the importance of faith.

        ah … and btw: I didn’t want to push the Rosicrucians onto you – especially since I myself moved beyond them. Just wanted to share where I got some knowledge from.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Always risk. Always trust. Always be amazed it worked.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. emmlisten says:

    I love this! Thank you so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Bob Martin says:

    Some say a leap of faith is taking a jump into darkness knowing that God will protect from pain and harm. I maintain that it is a greater leap of faith when, at God’s direction, we take such a leap not knowing if we will get hurt and not caring since it is an act of obedience to God’s will.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Excellent! For me, the witness and life in the Words of the Bible called to me. His Spirit and His Word changed my life. One day with Him is better than a thousand without Him! Blessings to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My seminary professor referred to the leap of faith, as “Taking the leap and finding God catching you.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • sitting bull says:

      Oh yea!
      I thought about the “leap” of faith, as it is displayed in movies often – jumping down in faith.
      I for myself decided first to give flying a chance to “leap” up.
      It’s the safer way in case my faith wasn’t strong enough 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Beautiful post! We take leaps of faith daily, walking on a pier over the ocean, sitting in a chair believing they won’t give out, but the faith that we place in Christ is sound, solid, unwavering, reliable, and proven.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I always like to use the example from one of the Indiana Jones movies where he has to cross a chasm to get the holy grail but can’t see any bridge. He steps out anyway and there is an invisible path.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. knabbler says:

    “A leap of life” The phrase has me smiling from ear to ear.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Bill Sweeney says:

    I love this post, Mitch, because it prompted me to reflect on my “leap of life” 36 years ago when I read the New Testament for the first time. After making a commitment to follow Christ, I didn’t go to church for four months because I was afraid that I would become another “pew sitter” 🙂 I was still deeply skeptical of church and thought I had found something so life-changing that others didn’t even know about. I sat in my apartment and read the Bible for hours every day. If we could just get non-Christians to read just the book of John with an open mind!

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Well written and accessible analogy for anyone. Appreciate your post.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Love that mountaineer analogy, Mitch. Some would say I was too young to understand my actions when I took the leap of faith. I was just four years old. But around me were so many experienced mountaineers, all of whom had taken their own leaps of faith, that it just seemed natural to join them. I knew Jesus as Miracle Worker, Lover of children, Listener of prayer, and Wise Teacher. Then I learned that he had died to take the punishment for the naughty things I did and wanted to give me the gift of eternal life. Why would I say no? Now all these decades later I am SO grateful for his presence, guidance, strength, and peace, and more, providing positive impact day after day. I can’t imagine life without him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I was the young adult convert, Nancy. But you, I suspect, probably grew up believing and then reaffirmed with a gradually maturing mind (in stages?) what you’d intuitively grasped as a child.

      Like

      • Nancy Ruegg says:

        Something like that. But even at age four I understood enough to want Jesus as my Savior. A friend of my mother’s led me in the prayer to ask him into my life. At age fifteen, with important life decisions ahead (college, career, marriage) I chose him as my Guide and submitted myself to his leadership. As time has passed, my relationship with him has continued to deepen. I would now add the title of Intimate Companion to Savior and Guide.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. pkadams says:

    What a beautiful picture of trusting our savior who is calling us ! He is worthy of our trust! And the Bible is full of eye witnesses who confirm that Jesus is able to save us. I read a very sad blog the other day. The writer has decided that God is an “experience “. It broke my heart to realize how lost this woman is .

    Liked by 2 people

  17. To make a leap of hope is like having faith in nothing. Take on the Armour of Love, and you will be protected from everything. Great post, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply to knabbler Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s