The Jumping Off Place

A woman jumped to her death from a balcony in the heart of Buckhead Wednesday, Atlanta police said… Police were on the scene at 1:11 pm. More details were not immediately available.” This was the headline for the story in the local newspaper, minutes after a woman in her 20’s presumably took her own life.

I watched them load her body into the coroner’s van. I saw the police, fire fighters, detectives and medical examiner pack up their things, shake hands and get into their cars to leave. All in a day’s work.

Just like that…a life abruptly comes to an end.

“Who was she? What was her name? What was so bad that the only option was death? Was it an accident? Does she have a family? Husband? Boyfriend? Anyone?”

I wonder what the last thing was that was said to her? What was her final thought? Was she scared? Did she immediately regret her decision?

Things seemed to move in slow motion as passersby continued to talk on their cell phone or with the person in the car with them. People were smiling and laughing, oblivious to the fact that just minutes before, out of desperation, a human being had plunged to her death.

It’s weird, right? I mean, I don’t even know what this woman looked like and yet I feel in my gut as if I just lost a friend.

I wonder if she knew that there was a church just feet away? I wonder if she knew that there would have been multiple people eager to come to her rescue?

In staff meeting today, our amazing campus pastor encouraged us to recognize that there are thousands of people, right here, who don’t know God and have not heard the name of Jesus.

“Was she one of them?”

Just minutes before this happened, several staff were in a meeting discussing reaching people and who we want to be as “the only church that some will ever see.” What does that look like? How do we turn that from just a really great idea into something tangible?

As I turned from the window and walked slowly back to my desk, one of the first things that came to mind was, “The enemy prowls like a lion, ready to devour anyone within reach.1 Peter 5:8.

Honestly, if this did not happen right in front of me, it would have been just another headline. If I had not watched the woman who witnessed the fall weep while recounting the details to authorities, I probably would not have even read the article.

This made real what Billy was saying earlier in the day. We must go out and reach the seemingly unreachable. We can’t assume that someone else will.

Just before the course of the day changed, our staff was spread throughout the auditorium praying for each other, those who have yet to be reached, those who are inside and outside our walls, the rooms in which we meet…

One could argue that this happened because we were intentionally praying for those right outside our door. A jab from the evil one? Perhaps?

Darkness is real. It is lonely. It is haunting. And it is brutal.

The only thing to combat the darkness is light.
As Mother Teresa said, We must love without getting tired. Love does not have to be extraordinary. It must be tireless. Love = Light.

Do you have a jumping off place? You know, the place where your toes (metaphorically speaking) are just beyond the edge. I was standing, looking down from that very place almost 10 years ago when I faced the option to recover or give in to my addiction and allow it to take my life.

What wants to take your life?

Please friend…I beg you…before ever succumbing to the lies of the darkness, bring whatever it is out into the light. There is nothing too awful…nothing…that the cross is not enough to cover.

Have you been effected by suicide or a sudden death? What is the one thing you would tell someone who is walking through unexplained and tragic loss? What can I pray with and for you in this moment and throughout the day?