Hot Air Balloons And Reminders From God Through Unexpected Sources

Hot Air Balloons 

Hot air balloons are fascinating! Over the past several years, my wife Janet and I have enjoyed the Great Forest Park Balloon Race. Seldom do you see a single hot air balloon, much less 70 hot air balloons in one place. It is a fun and unique event.

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is held annually in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. With over 70 entrants and 130,000 spectators, it is the most well-attended single-day hot air balloon race in the United States. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was founded by renowned balloonists Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole in 1973. It was later taken over by four, young enthusiastic balloonists: John Marlow, John Schaumburg, Dan Schettler and Ted Staley in 1977. The annual balloon race started with four certified balloonists and a whimsical group dubbed the Mississippi River Balloon Transit Company. Today, it hails as the organization of the most well-attended, single-day balloon race in the country.

The unique race originates from the middle of a major city; St. Louis. Attendance is free to over 150,000 spectators.  Thousands come to watch 70 world-class balloon pilots compete in a race as exciting from the ground as in the air. During the race, the balloonists attempt to “chase” a 166-foot balloon of a pink bunny (The Energizer Bunny Balloon)  after taking off from the Central Fields in Forest Park.

Energizer Bunny Hot Air Balloon

This is the Energizer Bunny Hot Air Balloon from the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

The Balloon Glow

On the day before the race, the hot air balloons participate in the Balloon Glow. It is a night glow opportunity for spectators to walk among inflated balloons illuminated by their burners. The Balloon Glow is beautiful. Massive crowds of people walk the field in the dark where the hot air balloons are anchored to the ground.  

Throughout the evening, at intervals of somewhere around 5 to ten minutes, a loud horn is sounded to signal the balloon pilots to fire up their balloons. Seeing 70 hot air balloons suddenly light up to pierce through the darkness is a beautiful sight. Momentarily, it makes everyone forget  they are walking through a crowd in the dark. Onlookers forget the problems of the day as they bask in the beauty of the massive glowing hot air balloons.

The Balloon Glow

When the propane and flames are cranked up and the balloons start glowing, everybody is captivated by the beauty of it all!

God’s Message From The Hot Air Balloons

When my wife and I attend the Balloon Glow, we walk to where the balloons are waiting like ships in a harbor at night. One year while walking among the hot air balloons through the dense crowd of people, a thought occurred to me. How much was this like life? God reminded me of something. We walk through a world full of people wandering through the dark seeking something beautiful. People look for something or someone that will cause them to forget the darkness for a moment. They long to forget their troubles and problems momentarily and focus on the beauty at hand.

While soaking in the beautiful lighted balloons, I remembered a passage of scripture from the Bible.  The scripture passage brings the “Balloon Glow” experience into a perspective I can apply to life. In The Living Bible in Matthew the 5th chapter the wording is clear. It says, “You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” ( Matthew 5:14-16 Living Bible) Wow! As a body of believers in Christ, we are to be a “city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see”. We are to “let our good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise our heavenly Father.”

We Must Glow In The Dark World

Thousands around us are wandering through the dark, waiting for a sudden burst of light and hope. People around us are sinking in oceans of despair, depression, addictions, and hopelessness. We must be the burst of beautiful light shouting a message. Like the hot air balloons connected to propane, we must stay connected to God. As we stay connected to God, we will periodically burst into a glowing representation of God’s light and grace.

We all have friends and family members waiting for something beautiful that will permeate the darkness of their life. They are searching for hope. Everyone is dependent upon the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Without him, there is no hope. The good news is Jesus came to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly! Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  (New Living Translation)

We can be vessels radiating the glowing light and grace of Christ to a world desperately seeking a message of hope. We are all called to be a “glow” of God’s love, mercy, and grace. Countless people are walking around waiting for the glow of God’s love to burst forth into their lives. What are you waiting for? Fire up the balloon!  

Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

Mark 

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