As Jenny’s parents drove her to her birthday celebration at Disney World, she sat in her car seat bouncing a helium balloon. Her uncle had stopped by that morning to tell her happy birthday and surprise her with a balloon, and she insisting on bringing it to the theme park. Her parents had looked at each other, shrugged “Why not?” and consented. Jenny talked to her balloon, giggled, tapped it against the window, the seat beside her, and anything she could reach.
Her dad pulled into the parking lot and maneuvered the car into a spot. Her mom turned around and said, “Jenny, if you let go of your balloon, it will float up into the sky and we won’t be able to get it back. It will be too hard to hold it for a long time, so we’ll tie it around your wrist, okay? If you get tired of it, we can tie it to the stroller.” Jenny nodded enthusiastically.
She sat very still as her mother tied the balloon ribbon loosely around her wrist. Her parents allowed her to walk rather than sit in her stroller, knowing that soon enough she’d be tired and want to ride. As Jenny’s mother took her hand, she bounced her other hand up and down to make the balloon dance. But she couldn’t see it up so high and control it as well as when she held it, so she pulled her hand from her mother’s grasp and started fumbling with the balloon ribbon to get it off her wrist and hold the balloon herself. Her mother saw what she was doing, plus they had a rule about holding mommy’s hand in parking lots. “Jenny, you need to take my hand. And don’t pull the string off or the balloon will float…” Before she could even finish, Jenny had gotten the ribbon off her wrist, but didn’t have enough of a grasp of it to keep it from sliding between her fingers. The balloon floated out of her reach, and she cried, “Balloon! Balloon!” Her dad tried to catch it, but he couldn’t quite reach it. The three of them watched despondently as the balloon caught the breeze and floated farther and farther up and away. Jenny’s mother knelt down beside her daughter. “I’m so sorry, honey. But that’s what balloons do. Next time we’ll figure out a better way to hold it.” Her mother thought to herself, next time we won’t bring a balloon on an outing. To try to distract Jenny from her loss, her mom began talking about the party and pleasures to come. “Jenny, let’s go on in to Disney World. Your friends are waiting, we have birthday cake and presents, and then rides, and maybe we’ll even see Minnie Mouse!” But Jenny was too distraught. With all the thrills of the theme park and a birthday party ahead, she sat down in the parking lot, crying for her lost balloon.
The above is a fictional story, but I think it somewhat displays a spiritual truth. There are many good gifts from God in this life, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying them. But we get too caught up in them, grasping them, distracted by them, and forget that they were always meant to be momentary. We’re saddened when we experience loss or when something in life no longer satisfies. That’s normal. But it’s a reminder that this life is not all there is. Eternal life, for those who know the Lord, will be so much more than anything we have here, even anything we can imagine.
“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot