Tuesday, June 19, 2012

High Wire Faith

It sure can be confusing to be a Christian sometimes. Imagine what it must be like to be on the outside wondering what this "Jesus" stuff is all about! Last weekend I watched the ABC Wallenda spectacle - three hours of video coverage of a 30 minute walk across Niagara Falls. Of course, I watched it. I lived near there once. It was the place we took all the people who came to visit us. It is a very impressive place. From time to time we would hear of someone who went over the Falls in a barrel. Some even lived to tell about it. But there hasn't been anyone walk across the Falls on a tightrope for over 100 years. In fact, its illegal. Until ABC got involved. It still took 2 years to get all the paperwork done. But what was good for tv ratings was also good for the local economy which has tanked of late. So, it happened. Live, except for Alaska where the screen said Live but we could have peeked at a news source (some of us did) to find out if he made it or not ( I let my wife live the suspense though). Other than all the 5 minute commercial breaks it was an impressive video event. The shots were spectacular. To think of someone walking across the Falls in the mist and the wind - we were reminded constantly of the wind speed and the rain - it was remarkable.

One of the story lines was Nik Wallenda's faith. In fact, it was so prominent no one could have missed it. He prayed with his wife and kids beforehand. Did anyone else wonder - wife and kids - why is he doing something so foolish, so unnecessary? I was reminded of a recent visit to my son and daughter in law's home. They have three children. Our son was talking about the time he hang glided. His young son was not impressed. Didn't you think about your family, he asked (even though he wasn't even on the scene yet - still he had a point). What would Wallenda's kids have thought if he had not made it safely across? Was it worth it?

He did make it safely across. For some reason his father was in a control booth talking to him the whole time. I have never tightrope walked anywhere but I was wondering isn't that distracting? Wallenda credited his concentration as one reason for his success so why was he talking to someone?

He was talking to God as well. And being miked we could all hear what he was saying. It seemed like he was praising God mostly but he was asking for help too. In the end, he said prayer helped but it seemed like it was mainly there to support his training, his concentration and his focus. He said the applause of the more than 120,000 people watching live helped him a lot too. He mentioned a couple of times how extraordinary it was to be the only person in recent memory to accomplish this feat and how much more impressive it will be in the future. Next, he has his sights on walking the Grand Canyon. ABC is already dreaming of the ratings.

In this year of the Christian athlete, Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, R.A, Dickey one could say that there was no more high profile Christian testimony than Wallendas'. It caught the attention of millions around the world as we were continually reminded by the ABC newscasters.

But to what end. What if the story ended differently? ABC made Wallenda wear a tether because they did not want to televise a prime time Live tragedy. O ye of little faith! How would Christians and non - Christians have handled it? Certainly, it would have raised questions and doubts. But, then is it ok for Christians to go out on a limb or on a wire and expect God to hold us up? Wallenda only said God gave him emotional peace; he credited his intense preparations for his success. As he should. Only a fool would climb up there over the Falls with no training and trust God to get him across. Still I have to wonder if many people don't make that leap and believe that somehow faith in Christ means we should be able to pull off any stunt.