Falling

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I am standing, a girl of ten or so. My arms outstretched. And behind me, my playmate’s hands are widespread, in anticipation of my falling limply backward into her awaiting embrace. It is a game we play called Trust. We test the limits to which we can trust that the confidant behind us will support us when we fall.

We stand until we are fully ready to let go. And then we lurch wildly- backwards. Flailing or otherwise. Trusting that when we land there will be sure and steady hands there to hold us- just before we hit the ground.

I never quite got the hang of it. I’d awkwardly pitch backwards and try to catch myself just before the final inches were reached. I’d go halfway and then stop.

Trusting was too hard for me- it required letting go.

Thirty years later, we are walking the side road that leads from a little paved lane ambling gently away from the river side. And I pour out my cares and my worries and my concerns to a listening ear, expressing my fear for today, concern for the future. Worrying that there is no soft place to fall when life gets rough. I am, and have always been- a glass half–full kind of gal. I try to see things positively, but my mind is often bent on doom and disaster. I have a hard time with hope and an even harder time with trust.

He walks beside me, feet steady and sure. And he says to me, “This is when trust becomes real.”

It is not a simple childhood game, this thing called trust. This ideal of hope. It is a hard fall into dark places. It is a pitch backward into the dark. It is a leap of faith not always knowing exactly where you will land. It is grasping in the black of night for a hand to hold. It is calling out for help. It is waiting. And waiting and waiting and waiting. It is wondering if it will ever come- that wish, that dream, that desire, that longed after, sought after illusion. It is crying and calling out. It can be messy and complicated and ugly and raw. It is long and hard and often agonizing. But it is what we’ve been given so as to cope in this life.

Trust, hope, faith. There is no other viable option.

Without trust- without faith IN hope, we have only a present fragile moment much like a delicate translucent bubble in flight. It is here and then it vanishes. Gone. There is nothing to follow, no promise of more. No next.

Even when we do not know where the moments are leading, when we do not know if there is a soft place to fall, nor do not know even how we will fall; even when do not know the direction in which the paths of life are unfolding, trust is believing that there is always something more. There is always another moment. Always another way. Always another path. Always another option. For trust believes that there is Someone there waiting to receive us, someone there ready to hold us when we let go and descend into the black of night.

Trust believes.

We have the hardest time to trust when we need it the most. When trust is of absolute necessity, we often choose to sacrifice it for worry or fear. We let anxiety take its place, allowing trust to be shelved for lesser antidotes. We believe that these reactions and responses can compensate best for what we are feeling. We think trust is too weak a response. Too hard, too much work. Too taxing and tedious and demanding and onerous.

Trust requires faith- but we want something tangible.

The moments we need trust the most often occur when there is suffering involved. When we suffer, we look for something beyond ourselves on which to lean. We desire a solution. But often rather than looking beyond ourselves for an answer, we look within ourselves for a fix.

Kara Tippetts, an amazing mother of four wrote these words prior to passing from this life to the eternal after a long, hard battle waged with cancer: “when we trust Jesus to be the carrier, protector, redeemer of our hearts, death is no longer dying.” Amen to that.

Death is not dying.
Pain is not final.
Falling is not fatal.
Anguish is not the end.
Suffering will not have the last word.
There is hope.

Tippetts continues with this: “Knowing Jesus, knowing that He understands my hard goodbye, He walks with me in my dying… Because in His dying, He protected my living. My living beyond this place.”

That’s trust.

Trust believes beyond belief that there are always hands extended ready to catch us when we let go. Receive us when we fall. Trust expects- it is a certain knowing that there will be a place to fall. Trust anticipates that falling is never the end. Trusts understands that I must let go if I am ever to feel those arms beneath me, bearing the weight of my pain. My heartache.

And much like Tippetts, for me: trust is all about Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, those two arms outstretched on a rough, rugged plank. Spikes held those hands ready and waiting. The hands that healed and helped the nations, nailed to a tree. Those arms wait even now for me to fall gently- to fall hard. To simply fall.

Simply trusting.

Jesus.

This is when trust becomes real.

Hope on which I cling…

I take it all in. The sky, with bits of pink and grey- strips of color extended across the remains of the day. We head for home- trying to beat the moon.

The last One’s bike freezes up. Something about the front brakes- and I’m no bike technician. So while the others push for home, she and I walk side by side- me with the errant bike, front wheels up in the air, as that is how this must ‘go down’ for us to get back to the warmth of home. This is how it goes sometimes- a mother takes the burden on herself for the sake of the child. She stays beside me all the way, and then thanks me profusely when we are almost there. But does she not understand? I love her. I would do this anyway.

I think of life and of all the obstacles that stop us dead in our tracks. While everyone else seemingly goes on with the business of living, there are some of us that find it hard to just put one foot in front of the other. There are some of us that get held up- sidelined- left to wonder why we should keep going. What’s it all for, anyway?

We make slow gains, she and I. Cars come faster now that the sun’s gone down. I keep a watchful eye on the road.
Is hope wishful thinking in an age of despair? Is there really such a thing- such an ideal as hope? Or am I truly delusional?

For it sometimes seems that there is a relentless pursuit underway for the phantom mirage right in front of the eyes, just for a drop of that precious life-giving water. Only to find out that what has been sought was merely but a figment of the imagination. A dream.

The highs and the lows of understanding.

Darkness settles in heavy by the time we turn in to our farm lane, marked by the blue barn on one side and the darkened river far to the right on the other. The girls are playing on the lawn, but it is too dark to see them. I hear their voices. One comes running, “I was so scared,” she says. Just seeing my face has made all the difference.

And isn’t that the way.

Just seeing the face of one who knows- does not that give hope? Does not that speak wisely of promising expectation? Of realized desires?

If it is hope that we seek, than it is hope we shall find.

Hope found in a mother’s warm embrace in the dead of night. Hope sought in a doctor’s good report. Hope uncovered in a warm embrace- a gentle kiss. Hope discovered in a word- a gesture. Hope found in the right word fitly spoken. The right deed carefully done. And if all else fails and hope is lost, knowing that this hope to which I cling- this faithful expectation will revive lost hope and see it through to the very end: that hope of which I speak is Hope found through the everlasting love of a faithful Father.

I believe in hope in the very same way that I believe in the promise of another day. In very much the same was as I believe in tomorrow. For there is little else on which to place my trust, than on that which I have come to hope in- that which I have come to trust. Knowing that there is more for me than this. There is more for them. More for us all. There is forever.

What hope at times I cannot fathom. But merely wait expectantly for in its revealing.

It is that hope on which I stake my claim.