What does it feel like to be completely taken care of, riding in the palm God’s hand? In reality, most of life is not up to us and perhaps, not even to God. However, He does know what is coming and how to navigate the winds that come out way.
I was reminded of this when my two best friends, my husband and I went for a hot air balloon ride. The adventure was predicated by three things: my friend was turning 50, I had 10,000 on my Facebook page, I wanted to test my recent healing of my fear of heights.
When I was extremely large, 430 pounds, I would never have considered going in a balloon for fear I’d break the basket or balloon.
Did I really believe first, that I am set free of this fear and second, that God does really hold me in the palm of His hand no matter what my weight is?
This morning we woke up at 5:30 to scurry around and be at the meeting site by 6:30. There was definitely excitement in the air. The words to “Your Love Never Fails” by Anthony Skinner was the first thing on my mind.
“And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid because I know that You love me.. Your love never fails.”
Listening to the song the thought hit me that it doesn’t matter what happens today or what life throws at us, if we’re in the palm of God’s hand we are secure.
Even if we lose our lives, we have this everlasting faith that is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
For faith to be a substance and an evidence, it has to be more real than what I see in front of me. I have to see with a different set of lenses. I have to see with the lenses of God’s perspective.
What better way to do that than to get above the earth and see a smidgen of what God sees? At least He sees more than what I see from my nose-to-the-grindstone perspective.
As we drove to the pickup point, my husband, Roy, commented, “This is a great day for a balloon ride. There is no wind. It is calm. The temperature is perfect.”
I looked up at the exquisite blue sky without a trace of clouds and knew deep in my heart that God ordained which day and time would be the right day for us to go up.
We were transported to the launch site which happened to be a church we were acquainted with. It felt right that this is the place we would launch from.
Roy investigated and examined the equipment as it was being unloaded noting the reinforcements under the basket, the stitching on the balloon and the strings and tethers holding it all together.
The beginning and the end of a balloon ride take the longest amount of time. First, the basket has to be tipped off the trailer on to the ground by at least two people. Then, the burners are attached.
In the meantime, the balloon envelope was laid out on the ground in what resembled a huge red, white and blue snake.
The pilot, Gary Stines, of Balloon Stormers, oversaw every detail from burners to envelope inflation. The basket was tipped on it’s side. The ropes were attached correctly and securely. Then as a large fan blew air into the envelope, Gary fired the burners to heat up the contents.
Almost like magic, the large snake on the ground began to inflate into the ball of a balloon.
Noting all the preparation, it hit me. God does this for us. He sets us up, prepares us for the adventure of a lifetime. The preparation sometimes takes the biggest amount of time and involves numerous people with various expertise to get the job done.
Many times there is a pilot God has appointed to help direct us on the journey. I’ve had many along the way including pastors, physicians, counselors, mentors, friends and family. Sometimes the pilot changes, but always it’s under God’s direction.
I had a strong sense this was a God experience. He wastes no part of our journey. Each step leads to the next revelation.
In order to lift off, I had to get in the basket. The shortest side of the basket is quite high. There is no door. You must climb in.
The crew walked the balloon over to the trailer. I climbed up and then Roy had to help lift my leg and get it over into the basket as I balanced. It was quite a chore. Roy just hopped in after helping us all.
Getting in the basket is necessary if you are really going to be nestled in the palm of God’s hand. Sometimes, we have the most difficulty actually getting in the position for Him to carry us on what will surely be an amazing adventure. And if someone has to help us in, we want to turn around an walk away.
Firing the burners heats up the air and makes the balloon rise. As Gary explained, though, all that does is signal us to go up.
After that, we are at the mercy of the wind. The pilot does not steer the balloon as much as he manages the height and notes any potential dangers or places we could land.
Of course in our lives God is the wind, blowing us in various directions. However, if we don’t go through preparation, allow guidance, get in the basket and fire the burners, we will never rise.
Adventures don’t just happen. We have to want them to occur.
We sailed effortlessly on the calm winds, above houses and trees, seeing swimming pools, waving to those out on their back decks drinking coffee.
This is how it is supposed to be, I thought. I am safe and secure in the palm of God’s hand. I am peering into people’s lives noticing things that are happening. I am not intruding but I am acknowledging them, waving to them and smiling.
Does God do the same with us? Inside the homes are aches, pains, heartaches and discontent. Up here in the sky, though, we ride above these things.
While not ignoring them, we get a bigger view of the world. There are many houses, and each contains a family and each has a destiny that can become a grand adventure if they want to climb in the basket.
Treetop level or just above is cruising space for balloons. Going higher, my ears popped and I felt dizzy. I am not accustomed to how God sees things.
Getting too far above my place in the world necessitates some adaptation. If I were to be here for long I would need a total transformation, just to live in this space.
Sometimes God calls us to see what He sees, but then come back and change things from our perspective. We cannot live in thin air for very long.
We had laughter and fun. My tall, never scared a minute in his life husband grabbed a handful of leaves from the top of a tree as we came close. My friend’s granddaughter wanted leaves from the top of a tree.
We scared a group of beautiful horses but as the pilot called to them, they came back to investigate.
We laughed at the pictures we took that showed everyone’s double chins. We told jokes. We sang songs. We enjoyed being carried for what seemed like only a few minutes but was probably at least an hour.
About halfway through the ride, our pilot began pointing out potential landing spots. My friend said, “We’re not ready to come down yet.”
He didn’t answer because a good pilot knows he must always be thinking of how the journey will end and what the best place is to put down in order to make the landing the most peaceful. With 40 years of experience as a hobby balloon pilot, Gary knew this.
When it was time, he spotted the site he wanted to land on a stretch of road that was closed for repair. It was accessible for the truck and trailer, flat and easy to land the balloon.
The balloon had a mind of its own and landed in the field on the edge of the road. As the pilot kept the balloon inflated, the crew met us and walked the balloon over to the road, positioning it so that the balloon envelope would lay out nicely to for repacking.
The balloon was deflated and we were finally able to climb out of the basket. A sort of sorrow set in as I left what had become a place of refuge above my world, lifted by the very hand of God above life as I knew it.
And yet this feeling of being carried by God will remain with me. No matter where I am I am in His hand, protected, yet launched into adventures of which I yet have no concept.
At the end of every hot air balloon ride there is a celebration with champagne or sparkling juice. The riders are christened and toasts made while the pilot reads the balloonists prayer.
“May the winds welcome you with softness. May the sun bless you with his warm hands. May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter and sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
As the prayer was read, in my mind I substituted the word “winds” with God, the word “sun” with Son and the words “Mother Earth” with His earth.
We sailed on the very breath of God held firmly in the palm of His hand where we belong for all of life and eternity.
In this place there is peace. In this place there is security. In this place there is freedom. In this place, there is direction. In this place, there is absence of fear. What do we have to fear when we know that no matter what storms come, His love never fails us?
We can’t direct the wind of God. We can only go where He sends us. However, if we climb in the basket, He promises to set us down gently, wiser and more faith-filled than before.
What part of the journey are you on? How can we pray with you today?
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching & Accountability Group is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Right now Sweet Grace for Kindle is on sale for $4.99 for a limited time. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.