Several years ago I took my granddaughter to the circus. It was the 100th year of Barnum and Bailey and we had front row seats. It had been many, many years since I had been to a circus and it was her first time. We marveled at the man on stilts, had her picture taken with one of the performance artists, and enjoyed hot dogs, popcorn, sodas and cotton candy til we simply could not eat anymore.
I must admit I watched my granddaughter as much, if not more, than the show. I thoroughly enjoyed her delight at seeing an elephant with a paintbrush in his trunk create a colorful work of art. I watched her eyes focus intently as the tigers jumped through hoops and stood on command. I joined in her laughter at the silliness of the clowns. I put on the funny hat and red nose to match hers, as every good grandmother would do.
We watched the acrobats soar high in the air and saw beautiful young women twists themselves into pretzels. The ringmaster announced each performance in a booming voice, but none so dramatically as the tight-rope walkers. I directed my granddaughter to look up to the rafters and began to explain to her what was about to take place. The first performer stepped out on the rope, holding her pole for balance. I looked at my granddaughter and said…
“Would you want to do that?”
She responded softly and I thought I knew what she said, but in order to clarify I asked…
“You would be scared to do that?”
“Uhhhhh….(in the tone of DUHHHHH!)…Granny, I’m FOUR!!”
Good point. Silly question.
I suspect there aren’t very many of us that have tight-rope walking on our bucket list for the same reason. It’s scary. One missed step could be disastrous. Even with a safety net below, the idea of falling from that height would be enough to make us catch our breath so sharply it would hurt.
Being a perfectionist in nature, I’ve felt the pressure of this Christian walk as if it were a tight-rope experience. Jesus said:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
This was a bothersome scripture to me for a long time. It sounded like missed steps would be disastrous. Even knowing that God promised to never leave me, the fall would still be painful. At the heart of my fear was the thought that I might wander too far off this narrow way, or fall so far that I would be unable to find my way again.
Life has dealt me some hard blows, most of which were initiated by my own choices. Without understanding Who my God really was, those difficulties only added to the pressure of this narrow walk I’m supposed to be on. When I fell, I would work so very hard to make everything right and serve in every possible way in order to be acceptable to Him again. How much work does it take to please Him?? Some of the falls were from great heights…is it possible to fall too far??
God gives us the choice: the way of destruction or the way of life. Jesus is the narrow gate, our entrance into God’s presence now and for all eternity in heaven. The narrow way is becoming His disciple, conforming our lives on earth after His. It takes discipline and practice to stay on the narrow way, but God has given us plenty of room for our steps AND is busy helping us!!
“You (God) have given plenty of room for my steps under me, that my feet would not slip.” Psalm 18:36
“The steps of a good man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way and He busies Himself with his every step.” Psalm 37:23
Thankfully, I learned that this narrow way is not a tight-rope experience. This life is not a performance of our works in order to please Him. God is good and faithful and has made a way for us to live abundant lives, full of rich experiences in Him – the “way of life”. Knowing He is with me every step of the way allows me to relax and enjoy this life He’s leading me through.
Scared? Not anymore. 🙂