THE ABIDING LIFE
By Gwen Sellers
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One of my favorite memories is flying on a trapeze. The summer after my high school graduation I went with my parents and childhood family friends to a resort that included acrobats. During the week, guests could try the trapeze with them. My friend and I trained on it all week and even got to perform in the week-end circus show. I remember having such a sense of freedom and joy. In looking at the pictures, my mom commented about the way I let go with my legs and truly flew in the air before being caught in the professional's arms. Her comment stuck with me.
Though it was about 12 years ago now, I was thinking about my time on the trapeze just this morning. Over the past month or so my life seems to have shifted rather substantially. God is very clearly calling me out of one season and into another, particularly as regards relationships. It's been a bit of an odd journey. I see the ways God has grown me, that my initial instinct is more likely to be trust than panic. I also see that it is possible to have varying emotions at the same time. I'm excited for what God has in store, yet I'm also grieving the loss of what was. One of my pastors used to talk about the different "pastures" God calls us into. No one wants to stay in a stale pasture. I see that where I am is getting stale; it's time to move forward. But at the same time, it was a wonderful pasture while it lasted. The past few years of my life have been ones of enormous healing and growth. I so love getting to see that God has done a work in my heart. And I'm so glad He has more ahead. But I also came to love some things about this season, and it's difficult to say goodbye.
In many ways, I envision myself letting go of the trapeze and flying through the air. I know God is right there, ready to catch me, eager to bring me into the new. It's exhilarating in a lot of ways. I want to release my grip and fully trust Him. But sometimes I'm tempted to keep holding on until I've already arrived at the next trapeze. I feel the transition happening, but I don't know what exactly the new pasture looks like. What if I let go of my legs and there's nothing on the other side?
Thankfully for me, that's impossible. God promises to be faithful. He alone is our anchor and firm foundation. Part of what I'm realizing is how much I've relied on other people or familiar routines to be my security. Of course God has purpose for community and does use others in our lives to help us feel stable. Routine isn't all bad either. But ultimately He is the foundation. He is both the catcher on the trapeze and the harness securing me.
Holding on to the old when I should let go doesn't look pretty. Neither does letting go too soon. Both instincts have led me to unwarranted anger, self-isolation, and unnecessary stress. Here's what I think does work: engage in the moment and be still with God. I want to grieve the loss of a season of life. I want to praise God for all He has done. I want to honor those who have been part of this season. I want to remain in relationship with them, but in a new way. I want to be excited for what God has ahead. I want to thrill to His call. I want to trust and to walk out in faith. It's only in faith that we grow. It's in leaping into God's arms that I feel the freedom of flying. And it's on the next trapeze — that new pasture — that He has prepared just what I need to become more like Him.
Whenever I think of emotionally charged moments, I think of the Psalms. I love that the psalmists were so real with God. They told Him how much things hurt, what they longed for, how they felt abandoned or disregarded, how they felt deeply loved and known, how great God is, and how they would trust Him. They had mixed emotions, and they knew the right place to bring them was to God. They were honest about their own hearts, and also truthful about who God is. Like them, I can express my full heart to God — grief, fear, thanksgiving, excitement. And, like them, I can also remind myself of who God is — the lover of my soul who cares about my life, who grieves with me, who looks forward with me to the newness He has in store, who provides abundantly and is worthy of thanks for the great things He has done, who is all powerful, who is just, who is gracious and merciful, who is beyond compare, and who — no matter the season of life — is worthy of all praise.
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Published on 8-2-16