What does it look like to live life without a safety net? There is a wisdom to building confidence with a given task or objective before we go for it completely on our own. Something as simple as riding a bike we don’t start without training wheels. So many of the skills that we have acquired only set in after a period of mentorship and slow growth that give us the courage to go for more and act without fear, but even still we have our limits…that is unless you are someone like Nik Wallenda.
Born into a family of acrobats Nik walked on his first tightrope at the age of 2. By 6 he would practice while his parents would throw objects at him or shoot him with a BB gun in order to teach him how to deal with distractions. Nik now holds 9 Guinness book of world records including the first person to tight rope walk across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. With nothing but a balancing stick Nic journeys from one end to the other—across a wire no wider than an Abraham Lincoln penny and all the while using simple phrases to calm his fears and help him go the distance. Nic is often heard saying things like “Praise you Jesus”, “God be the glory” and “Lord have mercy”. I can think of a lot of things I’d probably be saying, but Nic Wallenda does not merely accomplish death defying stunts just for the heck of it, but he legitimately feels called to live his life as a witness that with God all things are possible.
We hear from the prophet Jeremiah that the Lord is with me like a mighty champion. Feeling the weight of his persecutors he does not cower under their inability to see God at work, but rather sticks out his chest as he boldly exclaims “to you O Lord I have entrusted by cause, I will sing to the Lord and Praise His name for he has rescued the life of the poor.” Jeremiah is speaking like a spiritual daredevil unconcerned with the effects of living like a witness but instead taking the risk to be known as one who speaks up for his God. Jesus only makes a stronger case for this sort of activity when he says, “Do not be afraid of those
who can kill the body, but only concern yourself with the destruction of the soul.” Now clearly this doesn’t mean we purposely put ourselves in harm’s way or intentionally not treat our bodies with respect and dignity, but rather that our life in the Spirit is what God is most intimately interested in and the crazy thing is this: the only one who can be held responsible for killing the Spirit: is ourselves. By our own choices we either acknowledge Jesus or deny Him as our God.
A saint is one who lives faith without limits, witnesses to Jesus at every opportunity even at the cost of their life. A saint in the making is someone who knows the Lord and might not be ready to walk the full distance of the tightrope so to speak, but isn’t afraid to give it a try.
My brothers and sisters none of us have anything to be afraid of because the truth of the matter is all of us have a safety net when it comes to living out our call as a Catholic Christians. God’s mercy will always catch us and pad our fall, but we have to try. Once we step out in faith and overcome our fear and doubt—witnessing to Jesus is not only incredibly fulfilling but it can actually pretty of fun. My invitation to us all this week is to be like Nik Wallenda not by trying to do a somersault off your couch at home, but by inserting phrases into our language either by ourselves or even with other such things as Praise God…what a beautiful day, or God is in control, He’s got your back or whatever variation that would seem to fit our given circumstances. These little ways of acknowledging that God is present to us and cares about us are a major step in living and walking in faith. And before you know it every one of us can be on the tight wire suspended by grace and witnessing to the truth that our God is all the safety net we ever need.