You can probably imagine this scene. It is a warm summer evening and you are sitting in a marquee with all the sides open, enjoying a meal with friends. The conversation is easy and everyone is relaxed. But then a large hornet or some such flying and stinging insect appears. Its presence disturbs the calm of the group, changing the focus of the conversation and stealing the relaxed atmosphere. Some of the braver folk try to encourage the creature to leave by various means, but it seems intent on one thing only, and that is to fly upward.
Now this is the problem. It clearly seems right to the insect to fly up to get away from the shouts and furiously waving arms below, but, since the marque has a pitched roof, flying up traps it inside with no possible escape route. Its natural God-given instinct, which is mostly the best way of escape, on this occasion leads to further entrapment. The only way to get free is by not flying up; the insect must indeed first fly downwards so it can proceed out of the open side and fly free. Failure to follow this route may well lead to its eventual death.
When this scenario played out one evening recently it caused me to think how often we stubbornly try to get away from difficult situations by turning immediately upward. For instance, when we experience loss or grief we can try to push it away and ‘fly high’ quickly into a more positive mood declaring ‘I’m OK, I’m fine’. Or perhaps when we feel hurt by someone’s actions we rush to declare ‘I forgive you’ without being willing to face the reality of our pain. We desperately want to escape the problem, not recognising that the only way to true freedom is first to do something that seems counter-intuitive, to face towards the issue. It might feel like ‘flying down’. We may fear, as the insect clearly does, that this ‘downward’ move will put us in greater harm, but this is the only way that leads to life.
As the insect does, it can seem natural to seek a quick and immediate solution, ‘flying higher’ to get away from the problem. But, we may be trying to ‘fly high’ too quickly and find ourselves trapped under an unrecognised and unexpected freedom-limiting ceiling. However, by being willing to go contrary to our immediate inclination, by first facing toward the reality and pain of the issue, we can find God’s path which leads us out into true freedom and life.
Prayer: Father God, forgive me for all the times I have tried to escape as quickly as possible from issues and problems by attempting to ‘fly upwards’ immediately. I realise that doing this may well have led me into a limited escape from the situation, but hasn’t given me the abundance of true freedom that You desire for me. I chose today to trust You in future difficult moments, and to follow Your leading, facing first the reality of the issue, and, through this, finding the path out into true freedom. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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