It was a cool late October evening in 2012 and the kids had youth programs. Emma was up in a junior choir rehearsal and I had just picked up Andrew from something else. He and I were about to head home for homework and possibly some Lego Star Wars on the Xbox.
A friend of mine, Brandon, saw Andrew coming and hunkered down a little bit with both of his arms out. Andrew dropped his backpack and ran as fast as his little legs would carry him right at Brandon.
Brandon scooped him up, stood up and twirled him around at arms length. This all happened very quickly and my son is not a daring person (thank God). In fact, it rattled him a little bit and Andrew asked Brandon to put him back on the floor.
Back on terra firma, Andrew looked up at Brandon and said, “that was AWESOME! I almost touched the lights.” And then he pretended to faint.
Brandon laughed and said “Don’t jump into my hands if you don’t expect to fly.”
Two months earlier, at the end of August 2012, Brandon and fifty-nine other “Disciples of the Cross” had arrived on campus for their 2-year seminary training session. Many had sold belongings, left friends and family, walked away from other successful careers, all to follow God’s call on their lives into full-time ministry in our church, The Salvation Army.
They came from all walks of life, at all imaginable life stages. As young as 19 and as old as… well, let’s just say older is sufficient. Let’s not get ourselves in any unnecessary trouble here.
They came nervous. They came scared. They came confident, occasionally overly so. They came willing and they came, at least in their own minds, ready. Ready for what? Muah-hah-hah-hah. If they only knew…
They jumped from the lives that they had into this new calling, or at the very least this calling finally recognized. They leapt from the safety and security of what they knew into the hands of a God that needs them.
Today, Brandon and many others that I am privileged to call friends will be commissioned as officers in the Salvation Army.
They will be lifted up for all to see, not so that we may see them, however, but so that we may see through them a faithful and committed God who doesn’t ever let go of His children.
This weekend begins a dizzying ministry for each of them. They will be scooped up unexpectedly. They will be lifted again from the ground they are so accustomed to. They will be spun around, again and again and again.
And they will touch the lights.
There will be difficulties. There will be challenges. Not everyone will make it to retirement. There will be missteps. There will be pride. There will be self. There will be struggle. There will be…
But all along there is grace. Grace never lets go. Grace never looks away. Grace never, ever leaves the room. Ever. There will always be grace and it will always be reaching out for you.
You’ve got to run and jump into it. You can’t stay where you are. You can’t stay on the ground. Grace lifts and it carries and it’s better than where you are.
If you want to touch the lights, it won’t be your hands that get you there.
Because God says to each of us, “Don’t jump into my hands if you don’t expect to fly.”
Many blessings, Brandon and friends.