Believers must walk by faith and not by sight

Published 7:30 am Sunday, October 1, 2023

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My palms were sweating and my heart, pounding. I wanted to watch; then I couldn’t watch. I paced the floor and prayed for Nik Wallenda as he walked across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope on television years ago.

Every minute seemed twice as long as the camera followed every step of his quarter-mile walk without a net underneath or safety harness attached to the tightrope. Holding a 40-pound pole to help him balance, Wallenda had to stop twice and kneel because the tightrope was bouncing.

Wallenda wore a microphone so viewers could hear him talking, or rather praying. Most of his 23-minute tightrope walk, Wallenda asked Jesus to calm the winds, which were higher than expected. He also thanked the Lord over and over for helping him, as he slowly put one foot in front of the other. “Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God.” He praised God for the incredible creation of the canyon 1500 feet below him.

Nik Wallenda, the seventh generation of a family of tightrope walkers, did what most people thought impossible…yet again. For in June 2012, he walked across Niagara Falls on a two-inch steel wire, while more than 13 million Americans watched.

During an interview with Christianity Today, Nik Wallenda was asked how he overcomes the fear of failure to persevere in tough situations. He replied, “…I believe in pursuing your dreams and always focusing on the positive…My faith plays a huge role in my life, and I am very blessed to be where I am.”

Though others would disagree, he doesn’t think he is testing God. Rather he says, “I believe God gives me a unique ability to walk the wire, but it’s up to me to train properly.” His favorite verse reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge him in all your ways” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The now 44-year-old high wire artist is a husband and father of three. His book, “Balance: A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the line.” In it he quotes his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, “Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting.” During our vacation last summer, our family saw Nik Walenda in person.

American writer William Arthur Ward once wrote, “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”

Life is uncertain; looking back on my life, there have been times I didn’t think I could keep putting one foot in front of the other. As the Apostle Paul put it, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV).

“An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on (faith),” states British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Nik Wallenda said it took every bit of him to stay focused as he walked across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. As believers, we must focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”