For Katie and I, these last few months have been wrought with transition, radical adjustment, long work days, but also great joy. In each of the first three full months that we have been here at Fort Bragg with the 82nd, a Paratrooper has surrendered his life to Christ. Three Paratroopers who have, in a very real sense, taken the ultimate leap of faith.
In the 82nd community, Airborne operations are our bread and butter. We train to jump and jump into training. We take the typical battle drills of an Infantry Brigade and execute them as part of complex airborne insertions. We afford the Army a capability to react quickly and decisively, behind enemy lines. And the longer we stay in the community, the more jumps we rack up.
I have learned, however, that for most Paratroopers (including myself) the nervousness that can accompany a jump never completely goes away: the sunken feeling in the stomach, the racing heart, the sweating palms, the moments of real fear when faced with exiting an aircraft while in flight. In those moments we choose to have faith in our Jumpmasters, in our parachutes, and in our pilots. We convince ourselves that our training is sound, our equipment has been checked and re-checked, and that when we exit the door our chutes will deploy, and we will safely land on the ground. And so, when we receive that green light, “Go,” all fear washes away and we surrender to muscle memory and the moving chain of human bodies, and we leap out from the aircraft into the sky.
While Paratroopers may be accustomed to taking leaps from aircraft, they are not always so ready to take a leap of faith. This kind of leap means surrendering ourselves, and in that act trusting in Someone we can’t see, and we haven’t necessarily trained for. There are no Pre-jump procedures or PLF (Parachute Landing Fall) rehearsals that help prepare us for an encounter with God. We must choose to take a leap into the unknown, and only then will we find our canopies carried gently down by the hands of a gracious and loving Father. We have to choose to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross, and in that truth finally be set free from the fear and chains that bind us.
Our joy has been to see these Paratroopers, many of whom were at a crisis point in their lives and faith, decide to trust in Someone other than themselves. And if there had been any doubt as to whether we were following in the direction and ministry God was leading, moments like this erase them completely. They bring into sharp focus the incredible purposes and plans of God and remind us of how gracious He is in allowing us to be a part of His process of drawing these young Paratroopers to His side, in making them a part of His eternal family.
For this reason, we magnify His name. For this reason, we rejoice in every single moment, even when it means being away from home or working late into the night. For this reason, we give thanks for the great privilege it is to be co-laborers in Christ within this Airborne community.
For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on endorsement for chaplaincy, military or civilian, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.