Faith says, ‘Go jump off a cliff’


My name is Bob, and I have a confession to make: Even though I work in a church, I don’t like churchy words.

You know what I’m talking about. Head-scratchers like “sanctification” and “born again” and “consecration” and “transubstantiation.” Words that nobody ever uses except in church. Throw out enough churchy words, and you seem … pious. Intelligent. Faithful.

Come to think of it, “faith” is one of those churchy words that gets tossed around like a fruit salad. We make it sound like the Holy Grail, capable of curing diseases, destroying armies, and crushing sea monsters. “You must have faith, my son,” the pastor says to the boy who has just lost his mother. “Your faith will make you well,” the elder says to the cancer patient.

Tell you what … faith sounds like an awfully powerful thing, perhaps too powerful to be wielded by mere mortals. And I have to wonder: Do we even know what faith is?

Is it belief? Nah. It’s got to be deeper than that. Trust? Closer maybe, but not there yet.


Edward Teller

In my desperate attempt to discover the meaning of faith, I turned to that wellspring of knowledge known as the Internet, where I discovered a guy named Edward Teller. Now, as far as I can tell, Edward Teller was a physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb. Apparently he was an author, as well. Teller penned the following quote about faith.

“When you get to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”

Wow. What a powerful quote. As eloquent as it is profound, with phenomenal phrasing and rhythm. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Just … beautiful.

There’s only one problem. IT. IS. WRONG.

I know, I know. How DARE an intellectual lightweight like me challenge one of the world’s most famous quotes about faith? I mean, this was written by a man smart enough to blow up an entire continent.

9507-James_Bible page.630w.tnActually, I’m not challenging the quote. James is. Yes, THAT James. The guy who gave up a lucrative fishing career to follow Jesus. Same guy who wrote a chapter in this book you may have heard of called the Bible. Here’s what James has to say about the subject of faith.


“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

This is the part that gets me every time I read it.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Man, I LOVE James! Talk about practical advice for real life. James is THE MAN!

Do you see the difference? Teller says faith is BELIEVING you will be taught to fly if you jump off the cliff. James says you have to actually JUMP OFF THE CLIFF!

Allow me to share a real-life example with you.

Many years ago, when I was a submariner in the U.S. Navy, I knew a guy whose wife had this incredible integrity and inner strength. Not only was she able to hold the family together while her husband was away for months at a time, she also could really run a household. When her husband would go to sea, he would take advance pay so that she could pay all the bills. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have trouble stretching that much money over such a long period of time. For many wives, it was a disaster … the temptation to spend all that money was just too great. But this woman had the discipline and skill to make it last until her husband returned from sea, when the paychecks would begin rolling in once again.

During one particular patrol, however, some unexpected hardships came her way. She had to pay for a few repairs around the house that weren’t anticipated, and with two weeks to go until her husband returned, she had just five dollars left. She also had a two-year-old boy to feed, and the cupboards were beginning to get a little bare.

Photo of a Collection Plate

Tithe or or provide? That was the decision.

Now she found herself in church. The offering plate was coming her way, which meant she faced a true dilemma. Should she give? Or should she do the “smart” thing and hold on to her money? After all, nobody would dare say a word to her if she just passed the plate without contributing. Who in their right mind would question a young mother hanging on to her last five dollars so she could feed her little boy? Or maybe she could give 50 cents or a dollar.

Before she knew it, the plate was in her hands. Decision time.

With fear in her heart, she put all five dollars in the plate, offering a quiet prayer that God would help her find a way to feed her little boy.

She jumped off the cliff.

A couple of days later, she went to the mailbox. In the box was an envelope … inside was a check from the electric company. They were returning the family’s deposit of $150, paid a year earlier. Faith rewarded. Tears flowed as she praised God – $150 may not sound like much, but she could make it last a month if she had to! Some would call it merely a coincidence. Even if that were the case … she didn’t know that check was coming when she put her last five dollars in the plate.

Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter

Faith brings freedom.

That, my friends, is what faith is all about. Taking the step. Jumping off the cliff. And you know what? Like a baby eagle who steps out of the nest to soar for the very first time, we receive a tremendous gift when we have the courage to actually live our faith. It’s called freedom.

In case you were wondering, the woman in this true story is my wife, Elaine.

Now go jump off a cliff.

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  1. Lovely Bob. Very inspiring and encouraging and thought provoking. I love how the Scriptures are so honest. It says “we look through a glass darkly”. We know very very little. Even the brainiest scientist cannot explain the simplest of things in the natural world, such as Light energy, or Gravity. We may know what it DOES, but we don’t know what it IS. t is certainly easy to trust when we understand everything (or we think we do), and hard to trust when we do not see the next step clearly. We must trust God in both situations, because we tend to not ask for help where we think we know, when we know can be wrong. But in a real sense, I do think that “Jump” is what Mr. Teller is saying. He is saying, use your best judgement, and then take a risk. (Unfortunately, Mr. Teller’s science was used for evil.) The only difference in both kinds of jumping, is Mr. Teller’s phrase “the darkness of the unknown”. Only the Christian can have confidence that whatever happens, God will bring them into the light, not darkness. I may fall because I’ve made a horrible miscalculation. And I may fly. Either way, when I fly and when I fall, God is working all things together to make me more like Himself. Your wife was not wrong to trust Him. Her prior “action” and diligence gave her confidence to give her last five dollars. And her faith, and your faith, was rewarded. And now the faith is multiplied. Our faith is also encouraged and strengthened. Thank you for sharing this lovely story. I am looking forward to read your next post. God bless your efforts!

  2. God is amazing and he is doing amazing things through you!

  3. Brent Meinecke

    March 22, 2014 at 3:53 am

    A very practical lesson on the meaning and practice of faith in Jesus Christ. Thanks, Bob ( and Elaine). I’m not a very bold cliff-jumper. I like to analyze everything before moving most of the time, while acting impulsively ( which can mimic ” acting on faith”) sometimes. I love the account of David’s faith in facing Goliath. In essence, he said that God would prevail through him because of Goliath’s taunting of God. ( O.K., don’t ask me why David picked up 5 stones when he only needed one.) Daniel prays and is pushed off a cliff into the lion’s den. His active faith led to consequences, but God revealed His power. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s false gods, and he tells them of the fire they’ll be thrown in to, declaring, ” Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”. Their reply ( Daniel 3:16-18,NIV): Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego replied to the king, ” O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They don’t call Nebuchadnezzar ” King”. They powerfully state that they are certain of the existence of God- ” But even if He does not”. Active faith. What is the outcome? A furious king witnesses God’s deliverance of the faithful men, then proclaims his praise to God. Faith. An adult Bible class teacher I knew years ago opened each class session repeating the same question three times. Newcomers to the class were befuddled when he’d ask, ” Is faith enough?” and the class responded in unison, ” No”, then again, ” Is faith enough?”, the class replied, ” Yes!”, then finally, ” Is faith enough?”, the class stating, ” No!”. He’d say, ” Good, now for this morning’s lesson… Very confusing, until the explanation was given. Faith is NOT enough if it isn’t faith in the Triune God. Faith IS enough if that faith has been placed in Jesus Christ ( see Galatians 2:20). Faith is NOT enough if it is not accompanied by/ evidenced by Godly actions. If our faith is genuine, it will manifest itself through our lives, bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Our salvation is given to believers fully by God’s grace. We can do NOTHING to earn it. Good works/ deeds flow from our lives as an expression of our love for this God of grace. We cannot “work” so that He will love us more- He can’t love any of us more. The sacrifice of the Son on the cross, followed by His glorious resurrection, ascension to the Father’s side, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, all of which assure believers of everlasting life, show the full extent of His love for us.

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