It was an amazing thing to watch last night, as an untethered Nik Wallenda made his way, step by cautious step, across a two inch steel cable, stretched 1400 feet across a section of the Grand Canyon. The Little Colorado River Gorge lay 1500 feet below, a beautiful sight revealed to viewers by cameras attached to him. (Colossians 3:2)
Funambulism, it’s called. It’s meaning is not “the fun of walking,” but is from two Latin words: funis, meaning “rope,” and ambulare, meaning “to walk.” Walking on a rope. ie – “high wire.”
How is one able to accomplish such a feat? After researching a little bit, this is what I found. One has to think of the wire as an axis, and the center of mass of the performer as having the potential to rotate about the axis. If the center of mass is not directly above the wire, gravity will cause an obvious disaster. Enter the balance pole . . . a long pole, sometimes weighted at the ends. The performer carries and controls the balance pole as he walks. As he feels his balance shift, he can “shift” the pole a little, allowing him more time to move his center of mass back to the desired position. Wallenda’s pole weighed 43 lbs. The focus required is intense. But this is not your ordinary performer.
He would say high wire performing is “in his blood.” A part of the “Flying Wallendas,” a family of high wire artists that goes back about 100 years, Nik was on a wire two feet off the ground at age two. He’s grown up with it, and has trained all his life to do the things he’s doing today. It’s a unique lifestyle and one that requires great focus, and places him in dangerous places. But Nik is not a crazy man with no feet on the ground. (No pun intended) I just think he understands “focus” more than most. Here what he has to say about his family’s pursuits.
“I didn’t know why God had given us this gift, but I knew in my heart that the only way to honor it was to use it. Even if it was difficult, even if it was dangerous. Danger was real, but fear was a choice. I would choose faith instead — after all, that was a part of my family legacy too. Everything we did was for the glory of God. . . On the walk in Grand Canyon…Before I set out, I will join with my family in prayer, just as I do before every walk I take on the wire. We will thank God for a gift we may not understand but which we know we must honor. I train, I focus and I have faith in the path I feel called to follow. I know God is with me every step of the way.”
And pray he did, with his family before the walk, and every step of the way across that wire, calling on His God to calm the wind, to steady the wire, praising the name of Jesus for every sure step and for the beauty all around him, and praying that God would receive glory in this event. His most important, significant focus is found in Christ, the one who can keep his feet sure-footed. Psalm 18:33 says, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”
I think funambulism has much to teach us. We are all walking step by step daily, with many distractions all around us. Our group at church was discussing this just yesterday. My goal is to stay on the “straight and narrow” all the way. “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” (Proverbs 4:25-27) That’s the plan of action, but if, at any time, I let one of those distractions take my eyes of of the goal, I might just lose my balance and have a disastrous fall. I don’t want that. I need a something, like Nik has, to help steady me and reestablish my balance when it starts to shift. I need a “balance pole.” I have one in the Word of God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
What a blessed gift we have in the Word of God! That balance pole would do Nik Wallenda no good left on the hillside. Neither will the Word of God do us any good if we don’t read it and carry it in our heart as we walk through each day. But if we do, who knows to what heights God will lead us? To what works He will call us? Who knows what glory He will receive? “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
That’s the view from here . . . .