Saturday, June 16, 2012
Nik Wallenda and the Power of Awe
Friday night, stuntman Nik Wallenda (descendant of the Flying Wallendas) became the first (and perhaps only?) person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. He did this on a tightrope the width of three pennies and the length of four football fields. He did this in the midst of rain and swirling wind. He did wear a safety tether (something he had never used before in his tightrope walks but required by ABC, the sponsoring network). The safety tether hardly took away the danger, however. Even with the tether, this was a very dangerous stunt.
Wallenda was calm and cool as a cucumber as he approached the walk and even as reporters asked him questions in the midst of the walk. Before he got on the wire, one reporter asked him how he managed to stay so calm. Did he use some sort of meditation to keep his cool? Wallenda replied, "I have the peace of God in Christ." Until this statement, I had been unaware that Wallenda is a self-described born-again Christian. But he shortly was about to make sure everyone knew. All the way across the wire, the miked Wallenda was heard saying over and over again, "Thank you, Lord God. Thank you, Jesus." For a half hour on network television, an earnest Christian was praising God without censorship. Wallenda said he felt incredibly privileged to see the splendor of the Falls as no human ever had before. The joy of the moment for him (despite its difficulty and even suffering) was clear. What was also clear was that he could do no other than walk that tightrope. it was where he belonged.
What Wallenda taught us as he walked across the Falls was the power of awe. He taught us the power of worship. Intensely concentrating in order to maintain his balance and composure, Wallenda's mind was on His God who had given him the incredible ability to pull of this stunt and who had created wonders of creation such as Niagara Falls. And so he gave witness to Christ all the way across the Falls.
In a world of iPhones, iPads, iPods, laptops and numerous other distracting devices, for those with the eyes to see, there was a pull into a moment where we sat down, riveted and in awe. A quick perusal of Twitter after the walk revealed plenty of snark and sarcasm in response to this incredible feat, but many people also sat on the edge of their seat watching Wallenda. We were in awe of what he was doing, but also in awe of the grandeur of creation. Wonder. Awe. Worship. When was the last time you stopped what you were doing to focus on God and the amazing world He has created? When was the last time you said with the Psalmist,
"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)
Wallenda said his goal was to inspire people everywhere. He has certainly inspired me...to stop before the burning bush and be still...to remember that Wikipedia has not conquered the world, for the world is far more mysterious and wondrous than humans can ever describe, organize, or understand...to know that I cannot experience everything there is to know through the internet. He has inspired me to stop and really focus and see this incredible world God has made. He has inspired me to worship boldly my awesome God. Well done, Nik Wallenda.