This week we begin our advent celebration. Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior. It is a wonderful time to stop in the midst of the season and truly focus on the reason for all the wonderful merriment of Christmas. So…the next four devotion entries will center on the advent themes of Hope, Joy, Peace and Love.
“What color is your parachute?” As the words left my lips I could envision the colorful poster that once hung on the high school guidance counselor wall. The rainbow colored parachute floated above the printed question, a seemingly “happy” image designed to strike fear into the heart of high school juniors and seniors. What it really was asking was, “What do you expect to do once you leave the safety of the school?”
This day I am not asking this question to discover my kids’ career choices. I asked that question of my son and daughter because they intended to jump from a perfectly good airplane. Yep, there I was sitting outside a small airplane hangar with my husband, awaiting Steven and Ashley’s skydiving adventure to begin.
I will admit, it was an insane lapse of judgment that led to this situation. It was Steven’s 24th birthday and he and Ashley, 21, had both expressed a desire to skydive one day. Before I knew it we were driving to Orange Virginia for them to experience the rare thrill of jumping needlessly form a perfectly good plane. They were going to be jumping tandem, which means they would be strapped to the front side of an experienced skydiver.
As their time drew closer, after a looooong wait for the winds to be just right, I found myself engaged in a conversation with God that went something like this: “Hey God, I know You don’t like it when we tempt You…pretty sure I recall You saying Thou shall not tempt the Lord your God…just want to clarify that I am NOT trying to tempt you here…I don’t EXPECT you to make them fly just to PROVE to me You are God. I just want You to know I KNOW YOU ARE GOD so please don’t be upset with me that we are letting them do something so risky. But, ummm, I need you to make sure their parachutes open, okay? Again, not trying to test you, just going to trust you okay?”
As they donned their gear and headed toward the small 2 prop plane I eagerly asked, “What color is your parachute?!” I needed to know. I wanted to be able to identify them each as soon as their chute opened. I would be waiting for the sight of one black and one orange and black parachute. I would wait and hope. I would hope for opened parachutes, hope for safe landings, hope they fully enjoyed every aspect of this event, and hope they never want to do it again.
I can still feel the pit of my stomach churn when I think of those intense moments when all I had were parachute colors to look for in the sky and HOPE. This first week of advent, we consider HOPE.
In a season when we are often asked what do we “wish” for, it is sometimes easy to interchange the words “hope” and “wish.” We know we do not always get what we wish for. A wish is a desire for something. However, hope is different. Hope is a continued longing with the faith that the fulfillment will take place. It is a trust that what is wanted will happen. That day the floating tufts of orange then black were the fulfillment of my hope as I watched them land safely.
I was not “wishing” their parachutes would open, I was hoping they would.
Today I am reminded of the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus.
Because of the birth of Christ, His life and sacrifice for our sins, we have the HOPE of forgiveness for our sins, a relationship with our heavenly Father and eternal life. This week may we celebrate the fulfillment of our HOPE in the birth of Christ and in the continued HOPE He brings to all generations.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them….For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2& 6 )