“If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love.” — Oswald Chambers
When we envision kites and balloons we don’t generally think about what they initially look like. They start out looking like a thin piece of paper with sticks and a shriveled up blob of rubber. They are limp and useless. Not much fun at all. What does it take for both to become alive and vibrant –an infusion of AIR! Next, it is always important to have the string that keeps them attached.
Balloons, kites and string can be representative of three needs within the body of Christ. Those needs are kindness, encouragement and connection. Dr. John Townsend in his book, Where is God? helps to shed light on these as only he can. He writes, “Empty places inside us need to be filled with something that helps, and that is the role of kindness and encouragement. Kindness gives you the safety and grace that supports you. Encouragement gives you the confidence that someone believes in you.” When he defines kindness “as giving you the safety and grace that supports you,” balloons can be a picture of what this looks like in the body of Christ. The more balloons, the higher and safer your flight. You are carried above the storms and your burdens are made lighter. Conversely, as balloons begin to pop, float away or lose air, your situation becomes precarious and dangerous as you begin to plummet.
Next, Dr. Townsend describes encouragement as, “giving us the confidence that someone believes in us.” He says, “the word encourage indicates that someone is putting their courage into you.” The kite can be representative of the need for encouragement. When you imagine a kite, you can see it being carried by air currents and soaring higher and higher. Encouragement gives us confidence and courage to soar. Author Dee Brestin describes encouragement this way, “This life is hard, the enemy is real, and very few make the effort to say the encouraging word. But oh, what a difference it can make. We are so often like flailing kites, but an encouraging word is like a good stiff breeze that can send our kites soaring.” Like a kite, when the breeze dies down, we can begin to spiral downward and crash.
The third need is for connection which can be represented by the string. Earlier in his book, Dr. Townsend talks about the importance of connection. He states that, “connecting with others during difficult times makes the trials more bearable. Relationship and connection are the delivery systems for grace, care, compassion, understanding, and a host of other good gifts.” Problems can come when the string snaps, and like that balloon and the kite, the one needing to be connected floats away, becoming a smaller and smaller speck in the sky.
We, the church, need to help those who are struggling to take flight or to stay connected. Those who are sinking in despair desperately need an infusion of “tender loving air” that will lift them up from their descent into depression, loneliness and isolation. To breathe a breath of hope into another is always, in a sense, a very sacrificial act – you give a part of yourself in order to lift another up.
“Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:14 ( MSG)
Reflections on KITES AND BALLOONS
We often underestimate the power of a short conversation, an email or a card. We think that if they are not lengthy or the object of intense and lengthy prayers, there is a lack of impact. However, the reality is often exactly the opposite. Just a few short sentences of encouragement can change the course of a life for eternity. If you read the gospels, some of Jesus’ parables were long but others were just a few verses. Both had eternal impact and meaning. Many daily opportunities for ministry are fleeting moments that, on the surface, seem inconsequential, but when we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, He can take just a few words or thoughts and use them to provoke hours of Bible study, prayer or meditation on Scripture that can be life-changing.
God is so powerful that Jesus calmed a raging storm with 3 simple words “Peace be still.” He could have preached for an hour or two but it wasn’t necessary. The disciples’ lives were changed forever by this evidence of His power and sovereignty. And so it can be for us.
Sometimes it is just one verse or even a phrase within a verse that grabs our attention because it addresses exactly the struggles we are having. Sometimes it is a hug from a friend or family member, or just an email or a text, letting us know that God brought us to their mind. Sometimes it is a card or a note that someone wrote, often with a Bible verse that is exactly what God knew we would need that day. We need encouragement from other Christ followers to stay close to the “flock” and centered in God’s will for our daily lives.
But what about the days where we hurry and scurry around marking off all of the tasks on our To Do lists, and miss those heavenly opportunities for God to shine through us? What about the people who were like a kite hurtling to the ground as all of the winds of encouragement died down to a whisper and then were silent so the kite crashed? What about the people who were bubbly balloons full of God’s blessing until life popped them sharply and all the air flew out in a swoosh of the pain of loss? Even a balloon that is losing air can still bounce along for hours on a strong breeze and the power of the Holy Spirit loving, hugging, or just listening through the presence of a friend can be that breeze.
Where does God want to blow through you today? Who is like a kite or balloon whose string has been detached from the Master as they allowed life to disconnect them from the Lord? Their relationship is still there but the fellowship of the connection needs to be restored. Will you pick up their string and link it to yours until they can regain their spiritual focus and reconnect to the Lord on their own?
Prayer for the hurting person:
Help those who are drifting or have crashed as life thrust them to the ground. May they sense your concern and burden for them to have renewed hope in their life. May Your mercy minister healing to the tears in their kites or the holes in their balloons. May Your Holy Spirit pull their string to connect with others who can encourage and lift them up during this stressful time. May Your hand guide their path until they are restored to wholeness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Thank you for all the times that You have sent someone into my life to breathe in refreshing breezes of hope and restoration. Help me to remember what it felt like to be disconnected and headed for a crash. Help me to listen to Your whispers and feel Your nudges to help and encourage. May I instantly obey Your promptings to love and help others. Give me a grateful and generous spirit of compassion and understanding.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.