As nations around the world begin to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics, various sports are utilizing preliminary qualifications. Among them are the categories of indoor diving, which include 1 meter and 3 meter springboard, and 10 meter platform. Individuals or synchronized pairs compete to execute complicated gymnastic moves before slicing into the water, hands first, with as little splash as possible. There is another venue, which has also been featured this year. I’m not sure if it’s also an Olympic sport. It is high diving. The women jump from a platform which is 20 meters above a 6 meter tank. The men jump off a 27 meter platform. The gymnastics moves are just as complicated, but the goal is to enter the water feet first. There are assistants in the water, to ensure that each diver is safe after a plummet of 60 feet or more. Each diver, in high diving, gives a thumbs up signal before they jump, and an “okay” signal after they resurface from the dive.
From time to time, the camera angle for the high divers showed exactly how far away the pool was. It was far. Even on camera. It looked like all of 60 or 80 feet. And yet, each diver jumped off the platform as if it was no further than the 1 meter springboard. Most of the high divers perform in acrobatic shows around the world, like Cirque du Soleil.
I have jumped off a diving board a couple times in my life. I was much younger when I went off a 10 meter board, and my only goal was not to land on my stomach. It took a few minutes for me to get the nerve to take the step into the air. I watched as other people ran off the platform, and even one person did a handstand. The first time I did it, I was just relieved to be able to jump. I’d like to say that the second time there was less fear, but that wasn’t the case. Each time I climbed the ladder to head to the edge of the platform, the butterflies would be there. I had to prepare myself to take that leap over and over. But I did it. I was able to be part of the campers who achieved the high dive that summer.
Each of us, as we’ve answered the call the Lord has placed upon our lives, are like the person learning how to dive. There is a time of preparation for what we do. Whether it is the Sunday message we will deliver, the time we spend in pastoral care or the new idea we want to share with the congregation; in a way we are also preparing for what may happen next. We know that what we do is not easy. We want to bring Scripture to life for those who need to understand how God is present for each of us. We want to be the embodiment of comfort, compassion, support and grace for those who are hurting. We want to create new paths to those who have known God their entire lives and for others who are just discovering how wonderful are the works of the Lord. God asks all of us to take a leap of faith. The waters God asks us to dive into are spirit filled. We will be sustained, upheld and transformed by taking that first step which leads us to a new place and a deeper relationship with the one who has sent us into the world. May we be blessed as we dive into ministry for those we are called to serve. And Amen.