If you were a kid in the 1970’s or 60’s or maybe 50’s…you may recall a short film called, “The Red Balloon”. It was a story about a Parisian boy who comes across a VERY RED balloon. The Red Balloon has a mind of it’s own and follows the boy all around his neighborhood. The boy’s mother doesn’t want the Red Balloon inside of their apartment, so the Red Balloon waits for the boy outside of his window. When the boy walks down the sidewalks and through the town, Adults look at him quizzically…Children look at him enviously… The Red Balloon staying near to him like a loyal friend. On his walk, he sees a little girl with a Blue Balloon like the Red Balloon.
The Red Balloon follows the boy to school …which like Mary and her Little Lamb…was against the rules. The movie is mostly quiet. But in the classroom the children’s loud response to the Red Balloon angers the Principal. The boy is punished… sitting in the Principal’s Office for the rest of the day.
And then things get worse. Neighborhood bullies destroy the Red Balloon when they shoot rocks from slingshots at the Peaceful Friend.
The story does not end with this tragedy.
Life is like this…or we can hope that the final scene in Life is one of redemption… and beauty. The end of the movie does not change the injustice or the sadness or the truth that there is ugliness in the world and that bad things can happen to good people and to Good Balloons…but that there is a Next Moment.
We don’t stay in that awful moment. We can’t. The world moves on.
…sometimes we feel like we can’t get out of the bad moment…that we are stuck in a vicious cycle…an unhappy groundhogs day movie…a re-occurring nightmare…
But regardless of how we feel, the world moves on. And we are supposed to move too. We must.
“It” happened. “It” was terrible.
But “it” is over or will be over…how can we get over it?
Upon the violent demise of the Red Balloon, in the movie other Balloons from all over Paris fly to the boy…to say farewell to their fallen Red Friend… or to provide comfort for the boy . Probably both.
The world moves on…and we are supposed to move too.
I began to think about this because it is True…and because of the Sermon preached this past “Pentecost” Sunday at my church.
Picture a Traditional Sanctuary with large red helium balloons taped to all of the Traditional Sanctuary Pews. Now imagine at the beginning of the sermon my Pastor passing around new air-less red balloons to every congregant sitting in the pews. Sharpie markers were handed out… and we were then instructed by “Pastor Scott” to write down on the outside of our empty red balloon the name of a group of people that we feel called to work with…children; youth; old people; sick people; people in jail; people in other countries; orphans; widows; poor people…what ever group that is special to us…maybe even our “passion”.
Then we were told to blow up our balloons and hold the mouth piece tightly closed.
Once everyone had a filled red balloon Pastor Scott asked for us too consider our balloons. The air is trapped! The air is not in it’s natural state! We are having to work to hold the air in! The air wants out! It is actually screaming to get out each time we let go of our hold just a tiny bit. Can you hear the sound? Think about the sound of air escaping from a balloon. Can you imagine the high-pitched protest of being held in that small and stagnant place for so long?
Air in its natural state is always moving. Air SHOULD move.
There is a word in Hebrew (Ruach) and a word in Greek (Nooma) that means: wind, spirit, breath.
God has placed His Holy Spirit in us…and it is calling us to move.
But too many of us are like the balloon…pinched closed from possibilities. Controlled by fear of what it would mean to “let go”!
What happens to a balloon when we blow it up and then remove our fingers from closing off the air flow? What happens when we take our hands off of it completely? It flies! It goes! And where it goes is completely out of our control! It is completely unpredictable!
How scary…And how exciting!!!
If we allowed the Holy Spirit to move us wherever we should ACTUALLY BE instead of where we think that we should be…or where we are comfortable…or where we are in control…or where things are not too scary…
…what would happen?
This takes bravery to even consider. This takes the kind of courage that some of us may day- dream about…or some of us may have nightmares about…but we rarely find out if we have this kind of courage.
This is David v. Goliath Courage. This is Noah and Esther and Moses and Daniel and Joshua courage. This is Rahab and Ruth courage. And Mary. And Paul. And Peter….
These people and so many others are remembered and talked about still today. These people were like us. Imperfect. Flawed.
But even while they lacked trust in themselves, they trusted God completely.
That is who God uses to do Mighty things! People who know that they are nothing special…except that they have made themselves completely available to do whatever God tells them to do.
This takes complete Faith in God’s Promise that He has a plan for our lives.
Many of us have been given a “passion”…we know the kind of people/group that speaks to us and that we would love to help or serve. We hear a “higher calling” and are asked, “Will you just continue to hope and dream? Or will you act?”
and that act require giving up control
That act requires letting Go and Letting God.
Letting God Move us.
The first step to this is to acknowledge that we will die if we do not breath. Holding it closed, pinching it shut, closing it off …breathing the same air in and out and in and out over and over and over will surely lead to death. Suffocation. Self-inflicted asphyxiation.
It just will.
And we will never do what we are meant to do. And we will never go where we are meant to go. And we will never learn what we are meant to learn.
Father God Knows Best. He does. About everything…and my life and your life are a part of “everything”.
The second step is to ask God to take away our fear and to give us faith that He will take us to people and places so that we can be used by Him.
Whatever that means.
It could mean Appalachia, Africa, the Soup Kitchen or your dad or kid or neighbor. You may not fly high or far…but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all. You moved. The Spirit moved.
And you gave Him control. And the next day you let go again. And the next day you give Him control again. Every day. And it will get easier. We will learn that God keeps His Promises and that He really does have a plan.
And then we begin to breath. Deeply.
And live. Really Live.