“Each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up.” Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
My feet flew over Tommi’s sticker-y grass. I sailed like a bird flapping its arms, except mine flailed to keep from landing on my head. I had kicked my feet in one final push, as high as the metal swing set would allow, when I launched myself out. I was nine years old. All I knew–I was going to win the contest of who’d land the farthest away. I was oblivious to danger.
But in the way of metaphors, if we’ve ever been launched by God, danger can be obvious. It may harm our ego, our pride, our sense of get-it-right-itis, or it may taunt us with some other ailment. And if we go anyway, we can be sure to flail a time or two, to keep from landing our head.
When I left the plastic seat all those years ago, I forgot about gravity for a split second. I was in the air, far-flung from the safety of hands gripped around a chain-linked rope. I soared. I don’t know if it was a dare by Tommi or not. I suspect it was. She was a tom-boy through and through with a feisty spirit, a scraper and fighter known for picking them.
But that day, as with any braggart, gravity found me. It pulled me, hard. My feet went first, then my arms tumbled forward and misshapenly landed in a hole. I didn’t know it yet, but I had broken my right arm in two places. It took six long, itchy, cast-induced weeks to heal.
As a child, I left safety from naive curiosity. However, I rarely did things on a dare. I was more of a “truth” person.
Yet there were times I tested boundaries, like the time when I was around 5 or 6 years old in an Arkansas lake. Secured in my life vest, I began to swim for the ropes at the edge of the authorized swimming area. My Mother saw my direction and determination and screamed for me to return to the shore where she was.
But I made a break for it. I secretly laughed with glee at the thrill. That is, until I was about to touch the rope, for good measure, and a boat’s wake came. Being that close, I panicked. In my mind, sharks and strange “sea” monsters lurked under the rolling wave. I madly slapped the water and hysterically kicked my feet. My trek was covered with wide eyes and rapid breaths, while my floppy arms furiously pulled me back to safety. My mother’s former worry, to my chagrin, turned to hoop-hollering, laughter.
“I was already standing on the ground of my new life, ready to take the next step on my journey, if only I would turn around and see the landscape that lay before me.” Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Lately, I’ve been quietly launched out in small ways. I’ve been nudged away from safety. Even though I know God will do His thing, it never ceases to amaze me how He does that thing. Or where He does it.
We land in the unlikeliest of places.
Launching out, is not for the faint of heart. But make no mistake, we are called to launch with God. To journey the narrow roads He calls us, the ones less familiar, the trembling way leading to our Heavenly home, and therefore, He encourages us, “Do not be afraid.” Because we are–afraid. If we’d just accept the territory that comes with it, give it back, and say “Not my will, but Yours.” Fear can not hold us captive when we know its schemes, when we call it out, and give it’s power away.
Maybe we need a Tommi in our lives to help us leave our seats of safety. Maybe we need a challenge or dare to test our metal. And maybe, we find gumption to go against the wake and swim to the outer edge. But we do not always get these when we go with God.
There’s a learned skill that comes when we reach for a God beyond the roped areas we confine Him too. In other words, practice refines the art of it.
As we mature, we leave safety for substance. We leave it for God’s bidding. No bravado or challenge is needed. Only a gentle call, one that tugs us to exit our comfortable seat. The sheer impossibilities involved are evidence of God. We may soar or we may low-crawl. We may be launched on our elbows and knees in a military-style, on our belly, tactical maneuver.
Because there’s an enemy. And the battlefield is first in the mind.
We have no guarantees in life. We can wait so long, we never launch. Or we may launch by the seat of our pants.
But fear is a stepping stone. One under the heel of Christ. The gentle Spirit woos, and with all your love, the launch is worth the risk.