Not long before his death, Henri Nouwen wrote in Sabbatical Journeys about some friends who were trapeze artists. They shared with Nouwen about the special relationship between flyer and catcher on the trapeze. The flyer lets go, and the catcher catches. As the flyer swings high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when she must let go. She arcs out into the air, where her sole job is to remain as still as possible as she opens her hands and waits for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck her to safety. One of the trapeze artists told Nouwen, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.” The catcher will catch the flyer, but she must wait in absolute trust.
The gospel calls us to a similar spirit of open-handed living. Over several decades of following Jesus, I’ve learned that the essence of surrender is found in the posture of our hearts. In this place of yielding, we give the Holy Spirit free rein to direct and sustain our journey, and we also realize that our lives are part of a much greater narrative: God’s story of hope and restoration in the lives of individuals, families, communities, and local churches.
My first big surrender came shortly after beginning a relationship with Jesus in high school. My dad went through a midlife crisis—which included a fancy sports car followed by a perm (another story, another time)—and then he shared the news that we would be moving from Colorado to Hong Kong right before my senior year. Angry and confused, I unleashed my frustration and let God know exactly how I felt about the situation. But at the end of my tirade, I added a sincere prayer: “In my heart of hearts, I really want to know you and do your will.”
This prayer ...1
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