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Albatross

August 26, 2010
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When I visited the Royal albatross colony in New Zealand, I learned that albatrosses cannot lift themselves to flight with the power of their own wings, but must wait for a sufficient headwind to launch them into the air, and then rely on thermals to remain aloft.

Reflecting on this, I realize that I am operating in albatross mode. My wings are too weak to get me off the ground, and I am waiting for that headwind, and I am looking forward to cruising on those thermal updrafts. And that headwind is Christ, and I must be looking up, where my help is, and not down at my beating wings where my helplessness is.

We have a fig tree, sort of spindly for its nine years in the ground, and this year it is laden with figs that, for the first time in the tree’s history, show promise of ripening. We first planted the little tree on Vashon Island, and it languished. We dug it up and brought it with us to Tacoma, but the only place we had to plant it placed it in competition with a birch for sun. Last year the little tree produced 19 tiny figs, and aborted them all. And now we don’t know if our tree’s figs will ripen before we depart for our new home.

In my mind it seems to be a race against time: have we nurtured this tree these nine years, only to have it bear its first fruits for the benefit of others? And our grapes! Will we leave them before harvest and not enjoy quarts and quarts of frozen grapes through winter and spring? Is all our labor this year to be given away to others who did nothing to earn it with their own labors?

But, did not my Savior shed his blood and become the firstfruits of the Resurrection for the benefit of others? Am I not heir to the benefits of the covenant of grace because of the fruits of the life of Another? One sows, another reaps. Order is a divine blessing, even when it carries a bit of a goad.

The sacrifices we have made and are making for the sake of what I’ve been calling the vision, or Project Transition, are scarcely tremendous; they are more like puncture wounds, small perhaps, but deeply and acutely felt. Somehow I am given to know that the headwind I await to gain my loft will heal these tiny wounds in flight, and leave only tiny scars in their place. And I do rely and rest upon the promise of those thermals.

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