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Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: a kite string as a lifeline

Lynne Baab • Wednesday May 20 2020

Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: a kite string as a lifeline

In a prayer letter about her ministry, a friend of mine described her angst as a teenager. Her sister knew that she wanted to be a teacher, but my friend wasn’t clear on what she wanted to be and do, and she felt shame that her ambitions weren’t clear to her. Toward the end of her college years, God spoke to her in a picture:

“First I saw an arrow and felt God say, ‘See, this is like your sister, keenly focused on a single target that she’ll hit right on the mark.’ Next, I saw a kite swaying in the wind and felt God say, ‘I made you like this kite. Your life will go in many directions, but you’ll always be anchored in my hands. I need your sister to be focused, but I need you to be available. Are you willing?’”

My friend has held numerous jobs and ministries, all of them fruitful and interesting, and she is clearly energized by her current position as communications director for a ministry that raises awareness of people groups around the world, often called “unreached,” who have no exposure to the Gospel.

I’ve been evaluating my own life in the light of the contrast between arrow and kite. In some areas of my life, I was like an arrow. In other areas, like a kite. With so many unknowns at present, the kite picture is really helpful. All of us need to nurture the confidence that Jesus has the kite string well in hand. And all of us need to flex with the wind of the Holy Spirit.

Verbal pictures and images are metaphors, a Greek word meaning transport, where the meaning from one word is transported onto another word or concept. In the Bible, many pictures, or metaphors, are used to describe God. In the Psalms, God is compared to a shepherd, rock, refuge, sun, shield, and many other concrete, real-life items. In the Gospels, Jesus calls himself the bread of life, the light of the world, the door of the sheep, the good shepherd, and the true vine. Each of these pictures sketched in words has brought comfort, joy and challenge to believers for centuries.

I’m also interested in metaphors that describe us, the people of God. My new favorite metaphor for Christians is a kite anchored in Jesus’ hands and shifting in the wind of the Holy Spirit.

Another pair of favorite metaphors for God’s people comes from Psalm 17:8: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” I love the way the Australian band Sons of Korah sings Psalm 17, and I often find myself singing their melody as a way to pray the words of verse 8, picturing myself as a beloved and treasured baby bird sheltered under safe and comforting wings. Oh my, in these challenging days, I need God to keep me and hide me.

Another metaphor worth pondering in these challenging days is the tree planted by streams of water in Psalm 1. Using that word picture, we can pray that in these strange times we will stay planted by the stream, our leaves will stay green, we will bear fruit, and we will prosper.

On this challenging stage on our faith journey (another helpful and powerful metaphor), may God protect us, hide us, and keep us rooted beside the stream of living water. May God keep us aware of Jesus’ hand on the kite string, and may we relax into the Holy Spirit’s breeze blowing into our lives, shaping and molding us, guiding and empowering us.

Next week: another lifeline. Illustration by Dave Baab: a kite festival in Nelson, New Zealand. I love to get new subscribers. Sign up below to get an email when I post on this blog.

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