Seventy feet above street level on the top of our old Victorian home is a weather-vane. It pierces the sky as if to part the clouds, glistening with distinction as the highest roof point on the street. As part of the restoration of our house the weathervane needed to be painted. It was to be painted in gold leaf, the crowning ornament of jewelry on the grand painted lady we call "home." Scaffolding rose to the roof, but still another ladder was needed to reach the weathervane. No one was very excited about going another 15 feet above the top roof on a ladder. Something about looking down on the one hundred fifty-year old trees seems a little disconcerting. My insides were deliciously afraid as I committed myself to the task. Part of me was practical and responsible--"someone has to do it. I have a steady hand at this." Part of me was excited--"what a challenge!" Part of me was cautious--"one slip and you're going to really hurt yourself." Part of me was uncertain--"Is there really a plan for this or do I just see what happens when I get up there?"
Years later I look up at the weathervane still glistening in the morning sun. I remember the exhilaration of climbing the ladder, holding the little can of expensive gold leaf paint and the brush in one hand in order to use the other hand to climb. I remember the sag of the ladder against the clock tower. I remember the wind blowing harder than I thought. I remember painstakingly working to get every part of the weathervane covered on all sides even though my ladder was on only one side. I remember taking my time, watching carefully, adjusting my weight on the ladder. I remember the quiet. Everyone working on the house that day was quiet--watching. As I placed the last brushstroke of paint on the weathervane, I looked up into the beautiful blue sky. It seemed I was close enough to touch the puffy clouds overhead. My heart smiled--the joy of success! Then I looked down...
Suddenly, I was very afraid. The tiny cars on the street below let me know that one missed step could cause great harm. Joy turned to dread and my hands white-knuckled around the wrung of the ladder. My insides began to shake and I knew I needed to get down the ladder to the safety of the roof. As much as I tried to convince myself that I was just as safe as I had felt a few moments before, I couldn't reclaim any feeling of security. Not until I was safely on the ground did my heart stop pounding. The joy of success was quickly forgotten in one moment of fear.
Life presents us with moments to dare greatly. The content of the challenge matters little. It is our response that creates success. Our first response is to act. Take the first step, even if the whole plan isn't clearly in front of you. If you don't take that step, you will never experience the thrill of dependence on God for something you cannot do alone. Secondly, don't rush through the process. Our first instinct is to get through the situation as quickly as possible to end the tension of the moment. Yet, often, in our rush, we lose sight of the experience, missing what God is teaching us. Our need to get through the tension is a battle for control. Our willingness to stay in the tension of the moment as long as God is at work is part of the learning and leaning. Third, focus on what God has put in front of you. My heart was full of joy as I painted the last brushstroke and looked up into the sky. As soon as my focus changed and I looked down, I lost my ability to freely depend on the strength provided. Suddenly, it all depended on me and the sweet joy turned to crippling fear.
The weathervane is a reminder to me of the day I dared greatly. I succeeded and failed. And I learned a great lesson. Daring greatly requires that I take action, that I let God be in control of the process and that I keep my focus on what He is doing with and through me. While I may be a little shaky when it's over, the success of living in God's dream for me is like the weathervane piercing the sky, opening the clouds for His smile. Yes, I have succeeded because I have dared to follow where He leads.
Lord, use me! Remind me that you have called me to look to you, to follow you and to trust in you. Let me be abandoned to your call. Keep me focused on you and you alone. Cause me to listen and obey. Ignite my heart to dare greatly. Stretch me to live fully surrendered to you. You are my strength and my portion forever.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)