Flying Trapeze

By Gwen Sellers

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.

Psalm 46:10a — "Be still, and know that I am God" — seems pertinent. Actually, it's been a meaningful verse to me for several years; I've even written about it. Psalm 46 starts by saying, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah" (v. 1-3). Sometimes my world feels like it's giving way. When it does, I can remember that God is a refuge, and I can also get down to verse 10 and be still before Him. I can choose to rest in the midst of chaos, finding refuge in the capable arms of my loving Savior.

Though not written for believers or really even about direction in life, I do find that Isaiah 30:21 is an applicable principle for believers: "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Certainly Proverbs 3:5-6 confirms God's guidance in our lives: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Romans 8:28-29a says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son." Just before this, Paul talked about the way the Holy Spirit helps in our weakness and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). God will direct me; He will work everything out for His glory and my good; and He will be with me through it. So of course I can let go.

Revelation 21:5 says that God is making all things new. That verse gives my heart a little thrill. While leaving one pasture and stepping into another carries with it many emotions, I'm ultimately ready for the new. I don't want stale nourishment; I want what is fresh and good for my growth. I want what glorifies God. I think of the way God worked differently in David's life at different time. Routine is something I can manage. Change is something God is in charge of. It's when I trust Him that He is glorified. And, to be honest, it's during those times that I am most in awe of Him. Hanging onto the trapeze is fun, but soaring through the air is the thrilling part. And because He is steadfast, I can let go, enjoy the ride, and have full confidence that not only will He catch me, He never lets me go.

The writer of Hebrews gives great encouragement:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23

Published 8-2-16