Where Is The Wind Taking You?


Trust is hard.

We all like to be in control.

This past weekend was an event called the Hot Air Jubilee here in Jackson. Hot Air Balloonists from around the US converge on Jackson for a weekend of flying and competition. Tens of thousands of people flock to a local park to see the balloons, have a corn dog, and get spun around on carnival rides.

Several years ago our church, Rivertree, got involved as a way to serve our community. One thing led to another and now I sit on the Board of the event. It is one of the largest annual events in our county, and does a great deal for bringing our community together.

Our balloon, Syncronicity, piloted by Jeff Halitzer on a different flight

This year my wife and I had the opportunity to fly in one of the balloons. We lifted off from behind a local Middle School and floated over downtown Jackson. Dogs barked wildly as the sometimes noisy bags of color floated above their domains. People stood on back decks and waved. And I tried very hard not to pee my pants. As the town of Jackson fell behind us, we floated out over land that is nothing more than forest and farm land. We startled deer, and flew near a group of sand hill cranes. It was a beautiful flight.

There was one problem: finding a place to land. Most of what we could see by this time were trees. The few open areas that we saw were farmer’s fields, something that balloonists try to avoid landing in because they don’t want to damage a farmers crops.

We had one other problem: You can’t steer a balloon.

At least, not like you can an airplane. Several times over the course of the weekend I was asked if I knew where the balloons would land. My answer was always the same: wherever the wind takes them.

Being a balloon pilot is probably not a good idea for a control freak.

On this flight the winds were not taking us over areas that were easy to land in. Eventually we found what seemed to be a good spot and put the balloon down. I say seemed like a good spot because it turned out that we had unwittingly landed in a wolf pen.

Seriously. There is an animal sanctuary south of town and unbeknownst to us there are two wolf pens with one wolf in each one. When we came in to land the wolves hid, so all we saw was open field. Luckily for all of us wolves are apparently more scared of hot air balloons than they are of people and they left us alone.

While we were looking for a place to land I started thinking about trust. As we talk about Living Recklessly, trust is a key factor. If we trust in the God we serve, we will have less trouble allowing the balloon of our lives to float where he takes us. This isn’t always easy. We say “trust God” like we say “God bless you” when someone sneezes. The depth and struggle behind the sentiment can often get lost because we heard it so many times.

There are people in my life right now whose lives seem to be blowing in difficult directions. One old friend has a baby who was born at 26 weeks and has been in the hospital fighting for his life. Another friend just lost a Grandmother. Too many friends have loved ones who are fighting cancer.

Other times the winds of life blow us in unknown directions. Their stories are similar to Abrahams’s story in Genesis: “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (12:1) He was saying: Abraham, get your balloon in the air and trust that I will take you to a better place.

Trust is hard. Trying to take control is easy. I read a book recently by Arthur Miller Jr called: Why You Can’t Be Anything You Want to Be. He made this statement:

Stop trusting yourself more than you trust God to bless you. I have found, in my own experience as well as the experience of those close to me, that most of our anxieties and fears are rooted in a handful of common, deep-seated convictions:

• Deep down, we don’t believe that God is all that concerned about our lives
• If he is, we don’t believe that he really intends to bless us
• If he does, we’re convinced that he’s not doing a very good job of it — no better than we could do ourselves. p. 114

Balloonists do something called tethering. Sometimes they inflate their balloons and rise into the air, but keep a line tied to the ground. They will do this when the winds are too strong for a long flight, or after they land to give a few spectators a short ride.

In my observation, lots of Christ followers tether, rather than really letting the winds of God’s control take us where he wants us. We feel like we are going somewhere but we keep a line tied to the ground because we are scared of what God may really have in store for us.

I don’t say this lightly, and I don’t say this flippantly. What does it look like for your trust in God to rise to a new level today? What would happen if you cut the rope and began drifting wherever God’s winds would take you?