Why do they always send important messages through holograms in science fiction movies? It seems like something that will change the world as we know it should be said in person. Like, if we can digitally altar video and audio now, don’t you think they could digitally altar holograms in the future? How can a hologram message be trusted? Yet there they are.

Even more ironic is the meeting of the masters where half of the masters aren’t actually there, they’re there through hologram. Shouldn’t a meeting that effects the rest of the universe warrant personal attendance? Holograms are thin, as wide as a particle of light. The stream gets interrupted easily, it seems. Audio cuts out at crucial moments. Again, how do the other masters know that the hologram isn’t tampered with and it’s actually the master represented by the hologram? Yet there they are, these holograms mixed in with the real, deciding the fate of existence itself.

These mixed tables sort of remind me of the parable in Luke about a wedding party. Jesus recommends sitting in a lowly place at the table so you don’t have to be asked to move for someone more important. At that time dinner parties were much like 7th grade, in that where you sat mattered and said something about your standing in the social hierarchy. The popular people seem more real and weighty than the less popular people; or some people are there and some people are holograms, trying to be there.

The Message describes a person sitting in a place of honor only to have the host tell him he’s not the most important guest in front of everyone. That person had to walk to the lowliest place, humiliated. Another person sat at the lowest place to start and the host came and invited him up to the best seat. It finishes with this, “What I’m saying is, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to simply be yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 14:4-9 MSG)

What I take away from this translation is the understanding that puffing yourself up to look bigger than you are is a fast track to humiliation. If you project yourself as a hologram, a version of you that isn’t really you, your hologram will get shut off. Why is that? I think it’s because at the heart of this behavior is insecurity.

The complicated maelstrom of insecurity, vulnerability, and fear let off emotional helium that inflates our hearts and our personas until all that’s real is stretched as thin as a balloon, ready to pop at the first sharp word. In our heads, we think the helium will create space that protects us from the outside forces that seem so threatening. But really its setting us up to burst and fall farther and faster than before. We end up “flat on our face” and worse off than whatever initially caused the insecurity.

I don’t think this parable is really about important people and unimportant people, I think it’s about the heart and what our hearts can handle. In His kindness and grace, God takes the balloon-hearted people and asks them to move out of the spotlight of the front table, so they can have a chance to let out the helium and heal. God removes the pressure and the threat of that sharp POP.

On the flip side, someone who is secure doesn’t need an important seat at the table to know their worth. Their hearts are solid, like an acorn; lifted not by helium, but by the tree of life, that is Jesus. So God, in His wisdom, asks acorn-hearted people to fill the front table. Because they can take the pressure and not crack. The acorn-heart doesn’t get its strength from itself, but from God. Because of that, the potential within the acorn to bring life is released and the acorn becomes more than it was when it started.

Or as Jesus puts it, “Go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:10-11 NKJV) The glory comes from the host. Just like for those acorn-hearts at the front, the glory comes from Jesus.

God has invited me to sit at a lower place many times over my life. Sometimes I resented it, and shuffled along red-faced. But now I see His mercy in those invitations. He moved my balloon-heart out of harm’s way and I’m grateful. Perhaps you too find yourself being asked to move down the line. Don’t take it as a bad thing, just ask God to show you where you need to deflate an insecurity and find healing from all that is involved in that insecurity.

The LORD loves you. And He longs to fill His table with solid people and solid hearts. He won’t stop until we are no longer holograms mixed in, with the real; or balloons brushing against the leaves and acorns on the branches of His tree. It is not an act of judgment, but of love.

-Etta Woods

1 thought on “Balloon”

  1. What a thoughtful look at this passage! Thanks for the insight Etta. BTW – heard it is your birthday. I pray that you had a wonderful day ♥️


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