When was the last time you swung on a vine?

Last Sunday night after everyone left the Burns’ house, a few of us lingered over empty boxes of pizza. Dale noticed a vine hanging from a tree and did what any guy would do, he tried to yank it down. After pulling down on the vine with his (insert best estimate of Dale’s weight) frame, he realized it could hold him. Then he did what any guy would do after finding out a vine would carry his weight, he backed up and swung on it.

As Dale careened through the air like a pirate off the yardarm, we did what all guys would do while watching their friend swing on a vine, we sat back waiting for him to hit the tree on the return flight. As he passed the tree and fell to earth safely in a bed of needles, Dave would do what any guy would do after his best friend proved he could swing on a vine, he stepped up for a go.

After Dave landed on his kiester in the needles, I did what any guy would do. I knew I couldn’t be the only remaining person with testosterone on the sidelines. Yes, we’re still childish at 34.

I pulled down on the vine to make sure their combined weight hadn’t loosened it. I stepped back and took a running leap. In the air I realized I had absolutely no control, my legs flailed, the tree loomed and I let go early. I landed on my rump and heard what every guy would hear in that situation: laughter. I failed to trust the flight plan of the vine.

In the upper room, Jesus said to his companions, “I am the true vine…abide in me…for apart from me you can do nothing.” While he refered to bearing fruit, he could have easily talked about extreme swinging. He asks us to trust his flight plan. We grip, we cling, and when fear grips us, we tend to let go instead of trusting the vine. And we miss out on the whole adventure.

I had to do it again. This time I landed on my feet.

Tonight the guys prayed about being men who dared to risk something for God. In essence, I heard them pray for an opportunity to swing on a vine – the chance to be out of control, but having the courage to hang on.

I heard one guy pray for a man he’s been trying to reach for years.

I heard another petition for boldness to pray with his wife.

I heard another talk about helping pregnant teenagers find adoptive parents.

Jesus is the vine. Hebrews states, “Without faith, it’s impossible (not difficult, not hard, but impossible) to please God.” Unfortunately many of us just keep testing him to see if he can hold our weight: we crave safety and security. We never back up and take a running leap. Our legs will flail. Our hearts will pound. And he promised to hold us through the arc.

Take a swing. You never know where God may take you.

One other application point – I just found out Dale had a huge fear of heights from childhood. Yet he was the first to go. He set the pace, and others followed. When people risk, it spurs the rest of us to get off the sidelines.

Take a swing. You never know who is watching.

Clinging to the vine,