I've always been intrigued with the story of Abraham and Sarah, who were called to pack their bags, leave their home and country, and venture into a land unknown. We are often called to move, to make radical changes, either physically, like Abraham and Sarah, or in our personal lives. We are challenged to go in new directions, but it is our choice whether to act on those calls.
We resist change. I'm reminded of Peppermint Patty in one of the Peanuts cartoon strips. Patty is shown with her new carry-on flight bag.
"It's beautiful Patty," says Lucy. "Are you going somewhere?"
"No," replies Patty. "I hate going places; I just like luggage.
Many of us hate going places, especially when the destination is not clearly spelled out. We lack the faith of Abraham to be sojourners in faith. The opposite of faith is fear. It is fear that holds us back, that allows us to get stuck, that inhibits us from taking risks.
I recall a family vacation when our children were younger, where parasailing was offered as a water sport. All week we watched persons hanging from colorful parachutes over the water outside our hotel window. Finally, on the last day, we all trooped down to the beach to investigate. Once on the beach, my kids wanted to try, and before I knew it, I was handing over my pesos to the persuasive guide. The kids and I were signed up!
In the spirit of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his first born, I encouraged my daughter to go first. Even after both my children had floated up in the sky and safely returned to the sandy shore, I had second, and third thoughts. As I was being strapped into the cumbersome harness, I decided this wasn't such a good idea after all. I realized I was going on this journey, like it or not.
As the guides pretended not to understand my plea for one more Mexican minute, I found myself lurching skyward. As the parachute filled with air, I was effortlessly lifted high above the shimmering waters below. The only sound was the gentle flapping of silk behind me.
I was still tightly clutching the shoulder harness, as gradually the fear of the unknown gave way to a sense of being in another world. I cautiously let go of the straps and released the tension in my legs. I was truly hanging in mid-air, trusting in the rush of air that kept the parachute full, trusting in the ropes that held me in place, trusting in the small speck of a boat so far below, and trusting in the guides to catch me as I floated back to the sandy shore.
Floating up there, I thought about faith and trust. I thought about Abraham and Sarah. I would have missed this exhilarating experience if I had not been "encouraged" to overcome my fear and take a risk.