Taking the Plunge

One of the biggest moments in each of my daughter’s lives is the day they decided to jump off the rock.  The rock is a boulder that sits in the middle of a mountain river in Townsend, Tennessee.  It fell off the cliff that borders the river a long time ago and has served as a perch for swimmers ever since. 

Back in the fifties, my wife’s great-grandfather bought that cliff and the rock and the swimming hole that surrounds it along with a few acres of land and some old cabins.  Her family has flocked there for summer vacations ever since.

For every child who spends much time at the river, there comes a season when you can tell they’re thinking about jumping off the rock.  The first time they do it, it’s no easy task.  The mountain water is painfully cold even in the heat of summer. The poor kid has to swim or take a tube across stream, fighting the current all the way. 

Once they actually make it to the rock, they have to find handholds to climb it.  The surface is slippery so they have to watch their step if they don’t want to end up skidding back into the river, scraping their legs on the jagged edges.  I still have a scar from tussling with the rock myself.

All of this gives a kid plenty to think about sitting on the beach watching others swim across and take the plunge.  But the real moment of decision doesn’t come on the shore.  It comes once they actually make it up on the rock.  That’s where the internal tug-of-war begins.  Am I going to stand here on this rock all day or am I actually going to jump? 

I’ve gone through this with both of my girls, swimming out with them, helping them up on the rock, and treading water in the swift current waiting for them to go for it.  Some days I’ve waiting longer than others.  The rock looks a whole lot taller once you’re up on top of it than it does from the beach. 

I can still see their faces scrunched up with worry as they tried to work up their nerve.  I could tell they were wondering how deep the water really was, how cold it really was and how far they’d sink when they hit the river.  But most of all, the biggest question they were wrestling with was how much could they trust their dad.   

Would I really be able help them when they jumped?

I know how they feel.  I ask the same questions about God all the time.  Sometimes, God invites us to jump, to do something far outside our comfort zone.  Go on a mission trip.  Serve the homeless.  Teach a class.  Take a new job.  Open our house to someone who is lonely.  Give generously.  Write a book. 

Whatever it may be for you, it is a true leap of faith.  Like my daughters, we may stand on the edge of this decision for what feels like forever, trying to work up our nerve to go for it.  But the real question comes down to how much we can trust our heavenly Father.  Will his presence in the water outweigh the fear in our hearts?

The Bible is full of stories of real people just like you and me who God invited to take the plunge.  Some of them shrank back from the invitation while others leapt with wild abandon.  In the book of Joshua, we meet a young leader who was facing the same doubts and questions you and I face when God calls us out.  The advice God gave Joshua still applies today, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

Remember, it’s not the height of the jump or the depth of the stream that matters, but it’s who is in the water that counts.  We can trust our dad in heaven to catch us every time we leap to him. 

So what are you waiting for?  Take the plunge.  The adventure of a lifetime is waiting for you the moment your feet leave the security of the rock behind. 

Christmas Devotions for Families

BackstageBethlehemChristmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but when you have kids at home, it can also be the craziest.  It’s hard to find time in the busy holiday season to make sure that Jesus is the center of your celebration.

Backstage Bethlehem will make that a little bit easier.  In this series of family devotions, we will pull back the curtain on Christmas and take a look at who Jesus really is, the Creator and King of the universe on a daring mission to save the world.

Don’t settle for an ordinary advent.  Take your family behind-the-scenes for an unforgettable journey.  Sign up for my family devotional newsletter to receive a new Backstage Bethlehem devotion every Monday beginning November 26.

If you already signed up for my Thanksgiving devotions, you do not need to sign up again.


Best Surprise Ever 7: Surprising Life

Surprising Life

This is Part Seven in a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Here is Part OnePart Two, Part ThreePart Four, Part Five and Part Six if you need to catch up.  

Verse to Remember:  The Spirit of the God who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. So the God who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your bodies. He will do this because of his Spirit who lives in you.  – Romans 8:11 (NIrV)

Big Idea:  Jesus is alive forever, and I can live with him forever too.  

Have you ever had bad news turn into good news?  Imagine your mom made a fresh batch of cookies, but your brother or sister ate them before you could have any.  Bad news, right? But then what if your mom felt sorry for you and made a whole plate of cookies just for you? That’s good news.  

Or how about this?  Imagine you were supposed to go horseback riding, but the trip got rained out.  Bad news, right? But then, what if you got up the next day to discover that your grandpa bought you your very own pony?  Wow, that would be good news!

Jesus’ friends had to deal with some bad news too.  It was much worse than someone eating your cookies or a rainy day ruining your plans.  Their friend, their leader, their teacher, Jesus, was dead.

Jesus’ friends were so incredibly sad.  They had been following Jesus for years, watching him do amazing things like walk on water and heal sick people and even bring dead people back to life.  They had learned from him and laughed with him. They loved him, but now he was gone.

This wasn’t just bad news.  It was the worst news ever.

But then, something incredible happened.  The worst news of all time turned into the best news of all time.  

The Bible says on that first Easter morning, Jesus’ body lay dead in a tomb.  A massive stone sealed the entrance, and Roman soldiers stood guard outside. Jesus’ friends were scared and hiding.  All hope seemed lost.

Then God went to work.  The ground began to rumble and shake.  The soldiers didn’t know what was happening.  Suddenly, a strange warrior appeared out of nowhere, his clothes crackling with energy, the power and glory of God.  

When the soldiers saw the mighty angel, they were terrified and fell to the ground.  Then, the angel rolled back the stone that sealed the tomb, and revealed the best surprise ever waiting inside.  

Jesus was alive. 

The stone wasn’t big enough.  The guards weren’t tough enough and death wasn’t strong enough to hold Jesus back. Now Jesus is alive forever, and no one and nothing can ever hurt him again.  

You want to know the best part of the best surprise ever?  If we follow Jesus, that same power that raised him from the dead is inside of us.  So we don’t have to be afraid of bad news. We don’t even have to be afraid of death, because we will live forever with Jesus.

This Easter, party like you never have before.  Thank God for the best surprise ever. Celebrate what Jesus did for you on the cross, that he is alive, and you are alive with him today.  


God, thank you for the best surprise ever.  Thank you that Jesus is alive, and I will be alive forever with him because of your love and power.  Amen.

Talk About It

  1. What is your favorite part about Easter?
  2. Can you think of a time you got some bad news?  
  3. How about some good news?
  4. What makes Jesus’ resurrection the best surprise ever?

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