Walking the Wire…

(The woman with the hemorrhage) came up behind (Jesus) in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she had said “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. (Mark 5:28)

On the night of June 1, 2011, Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. The event was televised. It didn’t watch it live myself, but I did watch the video on the internet a day or so later. It was a spectacular stunt. Nik Wallenda walked that rope at night, in the mist and fog with nothing but the dizzying thunder of raging water below him.

I must say that what surprised me most was that the whole way across, with almost every step, Wallenda thanked Jesus and praised God. The video showed him in a prayer huddle before his walk and, as he had a microphone on while on the wire, you can hear him praying frequently all the way across.

I had never considered the possibility that a daredevil might be a committed Christian. But as I pondered that, I began to see a living parable. On the face of it, it seemed Mr. Wallenda was taking unnecessary risks with the precious gift of life. The thought also crossed my mind that he perhaps the stunt might qualify under “putting God to the test”. However, the more I pondered it, the more I began to see that God gives an endless variety of gifts, and that every single one of them may be used to glorify him. Think of the powerful witness Wallenda gave to millions of people simply by using his gifts, trusting and praising God.

The woman with the hemorrhage in the Gospel passage passed the test of trust and was healed. The theme of trust is one that continually comes up in my life, probably because I am a slow learner! As I pondered the high-wire event, it occurred to me that our faith life is a lot like a walk across the falls on a tightrope. What better metaphor for the “narrow way” than a tightrope? Think of the spiritual hazards we all face daily, and how easy it would be to slip off the path, but for the grace of God. Think of how the fog often obscures our vision and we have to just take the next step and the next in blind faith. Think of how, if we fall, the consequences may be dire.

We too have to pray constantly, and praise Jesus in all circumstances. It is not enough to thank him only when we have arrived at the end, but we need to thank and praise him every step of the way. He deserves no less.

One of the other things you hear while Wallenda is on his walk is his coach speaking to him as he walks, giving him counsel, such as to vary his gait so as not to cause the rope to bounce. The coach was Wallenda’s own father, himself a retired tightrope walker. So too do we have a Coach, our Father in heaven, who has all sorts of really good advice for us—if we’ll only listen and learn. He has been where we are; he is “like us in all things but sin.”

The times we are in are like the dizzying thunder of the falls. There is danger all around us, not least of which is our own concupiscence. We cannot lose our concentration for a second. We cannot doubt the Word of our Father who whispers in our ear, “Stay the course. Keep the faith. Trust in me. I am near and I love you.” Let us cling to the Rule which is the balancing pole we need to stay the course.

One other thing to note about Niagara Falls is the perpetual rainbow. Even at night because of the floodlights it can be seen, a sure sign of God’s unfading love for his people.

Jesus we trust in you. In your goodness and mercy, help us to stay the course on the narrow way. Be with us in every step we take. Thank you Jesus. Praise you Jesus. Amen.

“And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.” ―St. Thomas More




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