“Whew. That’s a view there buddy!”
30 mph winds swirled through the canyon as Nik Wallenda stepped on to the wire. It was a two-inch steel cable, 1500 ft above the ground. No net. No harness. On live TV! For the next 15 minutes his life was in peril as he crossed a canyon just south of the one everyone calls “grand.”
I wanted to look away. I tried to change the channel, but I couldn’t. My heart was pounding and my anxiety peaked, but I started the walk with him (from the safety of my couch) and I was going to finish it.
“Thank you Jesus. Praise you Jesus.” Calm my nerves Jesus.” Wallenda prayed audibly with each step.
A few minutes into the walk he said nervously, “The wind is way worse than I expected.” He hesitated, pausing for a few moments to try to calm his nerves.
“You’re doing fine. Keep going.”
The voice of his coach and friend spoke to him through his earpiece. His tone was loving, and even, and firm. “Keep going.”
I’ve often seen an image of a canyon used in Christianity. A person stands at one side of a great chasm, while God stands on the opposite side. The canyon represents an impassable chasm created by sin. But then a cross fills the gap and creates a bridge between the person and God. Eager evangelists invite people to step onto the bridge built by Jesus' death and cross into eternal life with God.
The image works on some levels, but it has also never really aligned with my own experience of following Jesus. For me, faith has been much more like stepping out onto a wire. It’s not an easy walk. The view is incredible, but the wire is small and shaky. My balance is questionable at best. My feet and my legs ache with every step. The wind swirls and the ground threatens below.
An even, loving, firm voice says, “Keep going.”
Sometimes I wish following Jesus was like an easy stroll across a steady and stable bridge. It would be great if things were easier, but they’re not. Life is hard and complicated. Life is beautiful and tragic. Following Jesus hasn’t made things more simple or easier. If anything, my experience of following Jesus has made my life much more complicated and difficult to navigate.
Yes. It’s hard. Life is hard. And… as I pause to steady my balance… as I breathe deep and look around… as I reflect on the steps I’ve taken and those yet to come… what an adventure it is to be out here on this wire. Yes, the winds are sometimes worse than I expect or prefer. No, there’s no harness or net to catch me. But I stepped out on this wire willingly and I’m not turning back. I’m going to keep going, step after perilous step. And while I’m out here I might as well enjoy the view.