Who among us loves the unfamiliar? The unknown? The untested? Well, I may be alone, but I really, really don’t. I am, however, learning to fear it less.
As our family walked through this summer, the experience felt like a long process of untethering. Releasing ties to what has been.
Beginning with her graduation, every step we took toward getting our daughter Grace ready for college and eventually getting her there was like casting off mooring ropes, and in small ways she was becoming less and less connected to us.
Every act of prepping, listing, selling, and packing our house, those were a thousand tiny goodbyes to what was and would no longer be. Loosing more and more the ties that held us to our then-home, to all that was familiar. Each time we said goodbye to someone we loved, stepped back from a ministry we were part of, or went to a place “one last time” it was another rope thrown off. And none of it was easy.
In the midst of all of this it occurred to me that I could look at my situation, this process, one of two ways.
Way #1 (which I might naturally tend toward) is that this untethering was going to make me anchorless and set me adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Scary. Intimidating. Unknown. This conjured images in my mind of a small dinghy on a stormy lake, threatening to capsize with no way to stabilize, blown across wave after wave, me hanging on for dear life, terrified of crashing onto rocks or turning up shipwrecked, rain-soaked, storm-battered, bereft of coffee, starving on a foreign shore. Dramatic? Yes. Emotional? Yes. Accurate? Not so much.
Way #2 (which I have semi-successfully done) is reflecting on a hot air balloon ride (bucket list item, photo included!) James took me on for Valentines day a couple of years ago. The pilot of the balloon had to cast off the lines, had to untether the vessel from the ground, for the balloon to soar upward, the craft gently carrying us across the stunning Napa Valley at sunrise, taking us to a new place carefully planned out by our pilot, that place we were designated to land safely. A place with brunch. Just saying.
If that untethering had never occurred, we would have stayed stuck, hovering just a few inches above the ground. And as much as I don’t love the unfamiliar, I really, really don’t love stuck.
Here’s the difference between the two: if you know the pilot, if you trust the pilot, you know that he will not only get you to a good place for your destination, you will have a scenic journey on the way. A reliable pilot won’t take you where it isn’t safe, into horrible conditions, where he doesn’t know the destination, and where you will be lost. Or injured. Or destroyed.
Being untethered doesn’t mean I’m drifting aimlessly. There’s a plan, an end point in sight, and even if I can’t see it, the Pilot knows my destination. Casting off all those lines doesn’t mean doesn’t mean I’m releasing of all my security, it means I’m trusting the Pilot of the vessel, the one who is steering, because HE is my security. And while I know I won’t land back to where I started, I trust the destination that the Pilot has planned for me. In the midst of all my untethering, He is an anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19) who causes me to soar on wings of eagles (Isaiah 40:31).
I will trust the Pilot. And as I start to land I hear Him whisper:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”