A Time to Reach

Airplanes bring out an unusual fear in me.

It’s not the fear of getting sick from spending several hours in a confined space of poorly circulated air with hundreds of strangers who may or may not practice good hygiene and may or may not already be sick; though I’ve been known to take an Airborne before every flight. Nor is it the fear of being suspended forty thousand feet above ground in a metal tube piloted by a man I do not know who may or may not have had enough sleep to do his job well; though I’ve been known to cry out to God for protection as the plane bolts down the runway during takeoff.

No, my fear is decidedly weirder than those.

It involves those little gadgets overhead. You know, the button with the light bulb that you can push to illuminate your space. And the air vent that can be opened to blast you with that poorly circulated air. And finally, the dreaded call button that you can press to summon a flight attendant. It is these, my friends, that strike fear into the heart of this air traveler.

Huh?! Really? Yes, really. Because in order to use these handy devices, you have to reach.

I have issues with reaching.

In my mind a simple reach may as well be an all out hands-flailing, look at me, attention-grabbing gesture. Reaching gets noticed. I don’t want to be noticed. Being noticed means that I would be considered, regarded, judged. And I may fall short, not be accepted. No, it’s best to keep my arm down, safe at my side; it’s best to not be noticed than risk being judged.

A life of reaching is a life of risk. I have risked little.


One year ago I accepted an invitation to name the year. In 2011 I sought to be satisfied in Christ alone. I named the year Satisfied. And in unexpected ways, that is what I am becoming. I use the word becoming intentionally, for it was no achievement of my own. How could I possibly cast off the idols of my wandering heart without the work of God in me? Even more, an achievement signifies a completion of an endeavor. Surely I am a work in progress, so I cannot even say that I became satisfied. Perhaps the naming of a year signifies the start of a pursuit; it does not end with the close of a year, rather it becomes a foundation. So in naming a new year, I do not replace the old; I build on it.

As I sought to find a name for this year I realized that it isn’t so much a goal to attain, though it has some concrete facets, rather it’s an embracing of what God has already laid before me. It is accepting the place at which I have arrived and gathering it up like a gift from the Father, instead of retreating in fear.

So where has Satisfied brought me? In short, it has brought me to a place of freedom from myself and freedom from idols that have held me captive in fear. It has brought me to a place in which I must reach. Reach beyond myself, reach out to others, reach up to God. So I am embracing the gift of this year and naming it Reach.

It took flying with my daughter and being more concerned with her needs than my own fears to cause me to finally reach, with only slight hesitation, for the gadgets overhead. Likewise, it has taken being more concerned with satisfaction in Christ alone than my own idolatrous fears to prepare me for this year of reaching.

I know it will be a challenge to let the word reach echo in my mind as moments come along in which I can choose to reach or retreat. Even choosing to embrace 2012 as the Year of Reach is a reach, for it is a great risk to embrace risk.

Only by trusting God am I able to reach and embrace the year ahead.

In hope,

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.


  1. What you said about reaching speaks so much to me. I, too, have a hard time with reaching and risking.