It’s been one year.
A whole year since we sat mesmerized in his room, watching on television as his neighbor did the unthinkable and walked a two-inch cable across Niagara Falls. The Wallendas are a circus family and live in Sarasota, Florida, where Rob grew up and his family still lives. Everyone in Sarasota knows who the Wallendas are.
What I didn’t know until that night is that the Wallendas are followers of Jesus Christ. Nik Wallenda was interviewed just before he took his first step on that journey 150 feet in the air above the thick mist, roaring water and swirling wind of the largest waterfall in North America.
What do you do to prepare yourself for something like this, the reporter wanted to know. Meditate, practice mind control, center yourself?
“No,” Nik replied, “you know, I’m the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. I focus on reaching the other side.”
Captivated by his dependency on Jesus to see him safely across, we heard him say a lot during that 45 minute walk, “Thank you, Jesus. You are mighty. I praise you, Jesus.”
I’m not surprised by that kind of reliance. Jesus is mighty and is more than able to keep a man stable on a dangerous wire. No, what really caught my attention were the things the media were saying as they watched his incredible feat.
“He’s so alone out there,” one said. “He’s keeping his eyes on the prize,” said another. And finally, just as the swirling mist enveloped Nik and concealed him from our view, I heard this profound statement broadcast across the air,
“He’s anxious to run into the arms of his family who wait for him on the other side.”
The comparison was not lost on me, sitting next to the bed of my dying father-in-law. With every step Nik took away from the family who wished him well on the American side of the Falls, our view of him grew smaller while he came closer to triumph at the end. It was so much like the fading moments that pulled our dad from us.
And I wept. I wept for our temporary loss which cloaked Dad’s final joy, kept from our view by the swirling mist of our blinding grief.
Then last night Nik did it again. This time he walked the wire in my home state, Arizona, fifteen hundred feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon. And this year it was me who fought a battle with cancer. It was an opportunity for fear. If I’ve learned anything in these fifty-five years of my life, it is this—fear never misses an opportunity.
But in the crazy desert wind high above the Colorado River Gorge, Nik Wallenda put one foot in front of the other on a slippery cable, voiced his confidence in his Savior, and let faith overrule the temptation to panic. As the cables swayed beneath his feet and competed in his vision with the goal on the horizon, Nik told his father it was an optical illusion—not fun, he said—but kept walking.
“Thank you Jesus, for this beautiful view,” we heard him say. “Lord, help this cable calm down. God, you’re so good. Lord, help me to relax, Father. You are my king. Oh, Lord, peace.”
He walked the wire, one foot in front of the other, all the way to victory.
Rob’s father walked the wire, too, right into the arms of Jesus. And I walked the wire this year in a different place with a different outcome. Last week we learned I am cancer free.
We each walk the wire in our lives. More than once and in dangerous places. Despite an audience of many, we walk it on our own. But I know the One Who can be depended on to keep my feet steady and my heart calm even if fear distorts the horizon with optical illusions.
Some called it a daredevil stunt. But I think it's the best picture of peace in our dangerous journey through life as there could possibly be. Whether I balance above the blinding mist of a roaring waterfall or in the hot, dry winds of a desert gorge, Jesus is the One Who has my back, Who holds me up, and Who carries me safely to the other side.
“I will never leave you,” He said. “I will not, I will not, I will not relax My hold on you, nor let you down.”
Thank you, Jesus. You are mighty.
Photo courtesy of hokkey's photostream @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/hokkey/314849610/sizes/m/in/photostream/