Jump And I’ll Catch You
(Lectionary Starters)

Second Sunday in Lent, Year B
March 16, 2003
Genesis 17:1-7, Genesis 17:15-16; Romans 4:13-25
Jim Killen, Aminister of the United Methodist Church, Beaumont, TX

“Jump and I’ll catch you.” Have you ever heard a parent say that to a child perched on some high place? Can you remember one of your parents saying that to you when you were little? Did you do it? Did you jump? In a sense, that is like something that God says to us. God reaches out to us in love to make a covenant with us. God begins the process of covenant making by making some promises to us. God promises being, significance, and a relationship. God promises to be there for us and to love us.

The first thing that we must do to live in covenant with God is to trust God’s promise and to dare to live our lives as if we believe God will keep his promise. There is some risk involved in doing that. But unless we take that risk, we can never learn to live in the covenant with God that God wants to make with us. God says, “Jump and I’ll catch you.”

I. In the Bible, we hear God saying, “Jump and I’ll catch you.”

God made a covenant with Abram. Abram was securely situated in a city of one of the greatest cultural and commercial centers of the ancient world. But God spoke to Abram, in a voice that came from beyond everything that he knew, promising to make of his descendants a great nation who would be a blessing to all people. God also promised to give to Abram’s descendants a land of their own. But God also called Abram to leave all of the security of his past life and to go adventuring in a strange land trusting the promise of God. Abram did it. He entered into covenant with God and ventured out trusting God’s promise.

But God’s promise was not fulfilled quickly or easily. Abram and his wife, Sarai, spent what would ordinarily have been more than a lifetime wandering and trusting but they still did not have a child of their own. In the passage we read from Genesis today, God again came to Abram and Sarai, who were, by this time, much too old to have children and renewed His promise and told them to keep on trusting (Genesis 17:1-7, Genesis 17:15-16). They did it. And finally the promise was fulfilled. They finally had a son – and many generations later, their descendants occupied the promised land.

In the New Testament, Paul taught that we must learn to live by faith. That means we must live trusting God’s love. Some people had a hard time understanding what that meant. Some thought it meant that their right beliefs would save them. Some thought it meant their religious practices would save them. Paul said, “If you want to know what it means to live by faith, look at Abram who dared to venture out trusting the promise of God” (Romans 4:13-25).

II. God has made a promise to us and called us to trust it.

The great promises God made in the Bible were meant for us too. He promised being to Noah – and to us. He promised a significant and meaningful life to Abram – and to us. He promised a relationship, to be “their God” to the people of Israel as they camped before Mt. Sinai – and to us. Through Jesus Christ, God promised us His eternal love, the status of children of God, and a new and better life in this world and beyond it. And God calls us to live as if we believe God will keep His promises. “Jump and I’ll catch you.”

What does it mean to jump and trust God to catch us? It clearly does not mean that we should put God to the test to enable us to do some foolish or self seeking thing. Jesus was tempted to do that when the devil took Him to a high place and said, “Jump and see if God will catch you.” Jesus knew better than to do that – and so should we (Matthew 4:5-7).

But sometimes, life requires us to venture out beyond our “security zone” in order to live life fully and decisively. We can only do that if we learn to trust some invisible source of help.

Sometimes the threats and uncertainties of life make us want to cower in some safe corner of life instead of moving out into life and enjoying it fully and using it well. Then God calls us to move out into life saying, “Jump and I’ll catch you. I will be there with you and make possible all that is necessary.”

Sometimes other people, or cruel circumstances, cause us to think so badly of ourselves that we are crippled by feelings of guilt or of low self-esteem. In those times God assures us of His love for us and calls us to live like people who are beloved children of God. He says, “Jump and I’ll catch you.”

And sometimes life confronts us with situations that call for costly commitment, situations in which someone needs to speak up for an unpopular truth or in which some great and demanding work of love needs to be done. Through situations like that, God may call us to venture out in the service of some great commitment, as Jesus did when He said, “If any want to be My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Then God promises to be there for us and to care for us and to make possible all that is required of us. The call to costly discipleship always comes with the promise, “Jump and I’ll catch you.”

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