Written by Ginger Rogers.
The staff of the missionary agency, where I was the receptionist, was often called upon to join in the prayers for those who were departing to minister on the foreign field. More often than not, we were asked to pray for those who seemed to be stuck between their calling and the demands of family and other unresolved issues. Our missionaries were expected to raise their own funds; they themselves had to approach individuals and churches to appeal for support. They were advised strongly to wait to leave until they secured adequate start-up funds and a reasonable emergency account that would float them if their supporters failed to come through as promised. Finances were almost always a big issue for those stepping out for the first time and without a doubt a cause for prayer.
One day the staff gathered to pray for one couple in particular. They knew they had been called to go, but they had to contend with both disapproving grown children and their squeamish parents. Furthermore, they were still underfunded as their date of departure drew near. As we laid hands on them and prayed, I felt led to make mention of the fact that the servants of the Lord will face trouble in the world but Jesus has overcome the world. It follows anyone who believes in Him will become an overcomer, too. Well, the more I prayed, the more carried away I got until a vision formed in my mind. I saw so clearly that overcoming the world is like rising with a hot air balloon, just driving up, up and away, far above all the oppressions of the earth that drag us down, keep up bound, prevent our answering our calling and fill us with worry and concern.
It was not a frivolous vision, but, instead, a sound analogy of God’s intentions for His people. He does lift us up. And the higher we lift up our praises and thanksgiving, the higher we float above the negative influences in life. Going for a hot air balloon ride became firmly etched on my “Things-to-Do-Before-I-Die” list and never diminished in the ensuing twenty or so years since that prayer time in the headquarters of the missionary agency.
Oddly enough, as much as I wanted to go, I was totally taken aback when our daughter in Albuquerque suggested that we do that very thing during our planned visit with her and her family over the Thanksgiving holiday. As often as I had gazed longingly at the balloons floating over Franklin on balmy spring evenings, I didn’t know how to prepare for actually being up there myself. Would it be terribly frightening? Would the whole trip be wasted as I sank to the floor of the basket to calm my fears? Would I become dizzy? Or sick to my stomach? What if Phil reacted negatively and we had to land early in order to tend to him? What if something went wrong? What if the balloon blew out a seam and ceased to inflate? Or a cable broke? Or a storm blew in and carried us way off course?
Hey, wait a minute!! My desire for going up in a balloon was birthed during a prayer for overcoming. And here was my opportunity to experience that very thing. As I talked down my anxieties, I began to the thrill to the moment. And it proved to be the single most amazing event of our lives. Our balloon arose just as the sun did one morning. We floated above the ground in such peace and quiet I can only describe it as a holy hush. Except when the whoosh of the heated gases shifted the altitude or the course of the balloon, it was as if we were suspended above everything that is dirty or ugly or noisy and held in the grip of cottony purity. There was very little sense of movement though, traveling at a speed of about thirty-five knots per hour, we skimmed the surface of a river and climbed to a height of 8,500 feet. We scared a flock of geese seeking shelter under a bridge and sent them honking through the skies. We awakened the dogs and chickens in a little rural community. We waved to children boarding their school bus and, hopefully, cheered up the lady dragging an outsized trash container to the curb. In landing, we disturbed the rest of the sandhill cranes that were all nestled in the grasses of an open field. Though we observed, we were truly above the everyday life beneath us. The noise, the routines, the chores, the responsibilities belonged to someone else, while we owned the solemn sublimity and crisp air of our lofty space.
If that is what overcoming means, that is how I want to live my life. To view the dullness and stress of all life’s “gottas” as belonging to some other realm, while my reality is above in surreal quietude and supernatural peace. After all, the Word says that we live and move and have our being in Him. In Him, we are high and lifted up. Our lives, though often rocked by trauma on earth, are in essence above all the world can do to us. We belong to the realm that glides gracefully through all that evil intends. We are as much a part of God’s covenant as the morning sunrise! And His mercies are new every morning!