The Parachute Jump
The sun was shinning as usual, and the exquisite blue of the ocean and sky always astounded the Ackersons who were still new to the Palos Verdes area. Barb and John had criss-crossed the country to accommodate John’s career. Moving here had been a real coup, and signing a contract that included a coveted “Golden Parachute” clause was icing on the cake enabling them to rent a home in this luscious neighborhood. One afternoon John and Matt, their fourteen year old had biked to the corner market. While waiting to pay, Matt nudged John and pointed excitedly to a customer who had just left.
“Dad was that Joe Montana?”
The cashier grinned and said, “He comes in a lot. He lives up the street.”
The whole family had embraced the highs of the Southern California experience. Seeing the sights was a mission for Barb. When she became engaged to John, she teasingly asked, “Can we go to Disney Land for our honeymoon?” That hadn’t happened so now she was making up for lost time.
Every morning while the coffee was dripping she headed out for her walk along the cliffs over looking the Pacific. Most days when the kids got home from school they loaded their boogie boards into the SUV and headed for the nearby beach. Besides Matt, there was twelve year old Stacy and Holly who was eight. Miraculously, they still enjoyed family outings. Today the kids were out of school for a teacher in-service day and they were going to Knott’s Berry Farm. They would leave mid-morning, arrive early afternoon and John would join them later. He was finding his job very demanding, but Thursday nights had always been set aside for his family and he was determined to continue the tradition.
At three o’clock Barb and the kids had left the excitement of Ghost Town and were enjoying snow cones as they walked to meet John. They saw him waiting for them at the designated meeting spot.
“Okay you guys. Are you ready for the Parachute Jump?”
Stacy, said, “Yeah, the kids at school said it is the scariest ride in the world!”
“Whooo!” Matt replied.
Holly looked nervous and grabbed her dad’s hand. Four tickets were bought since Barb opted not to go.
“One of us has to live to tell the story” she said only half joking.
Later, it would be John who related the experience. “I have never felt anything like it. Going up I could see all the other rides and part of Buena Vista. We were all looking around and enjoying the scenery. I looked at the kids and thought this is great! The next instant the bottom fell out and we were plummeting to the ground. My stomach stayed in the air. Holly dropped to her knees and Matt and Stacy did the same. After that awful, wonderful drop there was a pause. We looked at each other and started laughing and shouting until we realized – WE WERE GOING BACK UP! Then every one started yelling because this time we knew what to expect. We braced ourselves for the fall, but stilled weren’t really ready when it came. Thankfully we didn’t go up a third time.”
“Dad, I saw a man’s hair fly off”, giggled Holly who was probably the bravest one. On shaky legs they walked away from the Parachute Jump.
“I’ll take your word for it,” replied Barb who was probably the smartest.
On Easter Sunday the family went to a sunrise service at Marine Land overlooking the Pacific. The sunrise there was spectacular. The service was very moving yet several times Barb had to refocus because her mind kept wandering back to the Parachute Jump.
“Lord, why does that keep coming to mind?’ she asked. In a flash her spirit knew how the last days were for Jesus and the apostles. They were raised up with praise on Palm Sunday. They saw the adoration of the masses. They felt the love. Then their spirits plummeted as the Lord was taken, abused and nailed to the cross. Yet on that third day the stone was rolled away and death was defeated. The joy of the resurrected Lord took them to new heights. At that moment Barb realized anew the awesome gift God gave through his son, Jesus Christ. He gave us a savior who endured a tumultuous week so we could have victory through the ups and downs of life.
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