I came across this quote the other day and it got me thinking, and the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with it. For instance, I have often found myself in total agreement with the following statements:
I need to exercise more often.
I should eat less and eat healthier.
I should be more patient, less selfish.
God is faithful and trustworthy.
The problem is that often when I make these statements, they are only intellectual in nature, which means I agree with them, but I do not act on them. Somehow, that statement has to make the 18 inch journey from my head to my heart and only then will it be something I truly believe in. So though I know I need to exercise more often, not until I take it to heart will I actually act on it.
This realization brought back an illustration I once heard that I think brings this truth to light. Perhaps many of you have also heard it.
It is the story of Charles Blondin, the 1800s French tightrope walker who would perform various tightrope stunts, many across Niagara Falls. One particular time after performing a few different feats successfully, he then brought out a wheelbarrow and asked the crowd how many believed he could successfully cross Niagara Falls pushing the wheelbarrow. Either all or the vast majority raised their hands. He then asked for a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow. Not one volunteered. Though all believed intellectually he could do it, none believed in their heart he could.
Unfortunately, that is sometimes our view of God. We say we believe He is trustworthy, that we can trust Him with our lives, but in reality we aren’t willing to get in the wheelbarrow and give Him control. Why? There could be many reasons, but here are a couple I have had to work through. First, many of us really don’t want to leave this side of the falls. We like the life we have and even though we say we believe Him when He says He has an even better, more fulfilling life on the other side (and I’m not talking Heaven, just life here on earth), we say no. Second, we don’t trust Him to hold onto us as we cross some great chasms and fearful moments on this journey.
To say we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior is one thing, to mean it means we are willing to get into the wheelbarrow, to give Him control of our lives. That’s step one. Then, as most of us have realized, throughout our lives, on our daily walk with Him, we have to choose again and again in various areas of our lives to willingly get into the wheelbarrow. We finally surrender one area of our lives after we have mucked it up enough times only to watch Him make something beautiful out of the mess. Yet we balk at giving Him control over the next area because we seem to be managing it okay for the moment. Our memories are short . . . both on His faithfulness and goodness, and on our ability to screw things up.
A lot of us say we believe in many things: selflessness, generosity, commitment, God . . . but I would hazard to guess that in reality that list is much smaller than we think, for somewhere in that eighteen-inch journey, probably right about where our mouth is, that belief gets stuck right in the back of our throat.
First published June 30, 2015