In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier Sunday while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert. Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.
Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as “Fearless Felix” lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant friends and spectators who closely followed his descent in a live television feed at the command center. “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data,” he said after the jump. “The only thing you want is to come back alive.”
A worldwide audience watched live on the Internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized suit, stood in the doorway of his capsule, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere. “Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” an exuberant Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.
Risk takers like Felix Baumgartner have much to teach us. How many of us prefer to play it safe rather than take risks in our own lives and even for the Lord? We like the security of predictability to being led by the Spirit who is like a wind that blows wherever it wishes. While the need for safety is a major need in the human life, are we willing to take risks when prompted by the Spirit? Are we willing to go out of our comfort zone to give funds that we’ve been saving, to move to a strange place, to speak with people we don’t know because the Spirit leads us to do so?
Felix prepared for his record-shattering jump for seven years. He made jumps from fifteen and eighteen miles before attempting this jump. His helium balloon and space suit had been tested. How many of us take the time to prepare ourselves for the work of evangelism we are called to do? Our work of preparation is both internal and external. Internally we need to prepare our own hearts and lives so that when we encounter others it is from place of authenticity, vulnerability and empathy. When the Spirit shows us ourselves as we truly are, we “see how small we are” and minister from a place of humility and care. Externally, there are skills we need such as how to give bible studies, do friendship evangelism and conduct small group ministry.
Are we willing to invest time and energy into helping others share the journey with us to meet the Lord in the air when we will not need a helium balloon or space suit?