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The stain on my shirt

Are you more likely to define yourself by what Christ has done for you or by a misstep you have made along the way? Something you might consider a life-defining failure or something others might consider an #epicfail?

I tend to concentrate on failures.

It was an incredible day! After considering it for years, I decided to reserve my spot to go skydiving. Yes! I was ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and see if the adrenaline rush was everything I thought it was going to be.

Feeling strong and courageous, I arrived at Forest Lake Skydiving on time for check in, watched a five-minute training video, got suited up and boarded the plane. (I know, I was thinking it would take a lot longer, too!)

After quick instruction on how to jump from the plane, my tandem professional and I maneuvered our way into the extremely cramped quarters. Luke was my 28-year-old “pro,” who had jumped out of a plane 900 times. He was certified as a licensed tandem jumper just two weeks earlier, and this made my wife, Julie, very nervous.

As our plane climbed to 10,000 feet, I quickly got to know this young fella in whom I had put all of my trust and faith.

You should know that I struggle with motion sickness. In preparation for this plane ride, I had taken two Dramamine’s® earlier in the day, so that I wouldn’t get an upset stomach. I wasn’t worried about the jump—just the plane ride.

At 8,500 feet, Luke strapped himself to me, and we prepared for launch. What seemed like seconds later, we maneuvered around the cramped quarters toward the door. As the door sprang open, the cold wind blew in, and I put my feet on the step near the wing. Luke yelled “One, two, three!” and we rolled out of the plane.

Our free fall through the clouds lasted for 45 seconds, and I was having the time of my life. At one point, Luke yelled in my ear, “You’re flying!” Any thought of danger was gone, and I couldn’t have enjoyed the adrenaline rush any more than I did. It was pure awesome!

The next thing I knew, Luke pulled the parachute strap, and the wind that was incredibly noisy as it hit my face a few seconds earlier suddenly became overwhelmingly peaceful and quiet. I was literally floating through the air on a Minnesota Saturday afternoon.

In hopes of giving me the most memorable experience possible, Luke suggested we attempt some 360s in the air. You know, spinning around in circles? I should have known better—but I didn’t stop him. You’ll recall my issues with motion sickness? Three spins later, I had to ask him to stop because I felt like I was going to get sick. And as soon as I said it, I did. Luke screamed, “Sweet—my first puker!”

I was embarrassed. I was mortified. Here I am floating at 2,000 feet in the air, and I’m sick: all over the harness, the equipment and me. I begged forgiveness from Luke and apologized profusely. Luke assured me with these words, “Dude, it’s no worry—you just jumped out of an airplane!”

We landed safely, my family hugged me, and I had to explain the “stain” on my shirt. Our friends that were there noticed the stain, and I’m afraid that’s all they’ll remember about my jump.

To be honest, I’m still struggling to think of anything else but the stain. But I keep recalling Luke’s words that suggested I remember the jump for what it was and not for a small, unplanned shot to my ego that I experienced along the way.

What’s the stain on your shirt?

Dear friend, please don’t define yourself by a stain you have collected along the way—surrender it and find your identity in what Christ has done for you!

And enjoy the ride—it’s pure awesome!

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).



— by Jason Sharp

Sharp is station manager of 98.5 KTIS in the Twin Cities. Follow him on Twitter @KTISjason.