It’s the wind that you never fully consider. Perhaps it gets a mention–”And think of the wind!”–but I doesn’t get the attention it deserves from the outsiders.
Not like the height. The focus is on the height. The death-defying, gravity-taunting, insane height above the earth. What those who safe on the ground don’t realize is that the height is nothing to worry about. Once you fall, you’re falling. The wind, however, needs constant attention because it is very likely to cause you to fall from this great height.
It’s the wind that occupies so much of my attention while I’m on the wire. It’s the wind that scares me, that keeps me in a state of constant anxiety. There’s not a single area of my life that isn’t soaked in anxiety and worry. When a strong, frigid wind hits your body and eventually breaks through the layers of clothes and bones, it’s as if Cold itself has taken up residence within you. It’s the same with wind-born anxiety. A strong gust whips through you, right down to your soul, and the fear of falling becomes more real than that actual fall. You can see it happening before it does; you know for a fact that you’re going to fall off the wire. It’s only a matter of time.
I’ve never walked on a tightrope, but I have tried to walk the narrow path of grace. Sometimes, I don’t know if there’s much of a difference. Sometimes, I think the narrow path is more harrowing than the tightrope.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
That’s how Jesus describes the journey along the road of grace. He called it “narrow,” and what I have to wonder is, “How narrow are we talking?” Is it so narrow that I’m likely to leave the path if I’m not careful about where my foot falls? What’s more, as this path continues on, does the earth around it give way, such that I’m not walking the narrow path with nothing to my right or left? Is there no space for grace given to those who trip upon the narrow path of grace?
Back on the wire, the cold wind of past guilt whips through my body, making it hard to breathe. I have failed so many times before, but now, it suddenly seems so different. Funny how, after finding grace, a fall from it seems so much more dangerous and a landing so much less graceful.
It is doubtful that these thoughts would be approved of by Heaven. It’s hard to think that fear and grace should go hand in hand, but what if they do?
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be,
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Clearly, grace is meant to bring us a certain amount of fear: fear of going back to our old lives, fear of letting everyone down, fear of losing out on eternal life. Of course, as a good friend once said to me, fear is a secondary motivator. Love is the primary: love of God, love of family, and so on. The problem, though, is that love is so hard to see out on the wire.
If only my path were like Peter’s, walking on the water, seeing the love and peace in Jesus’ eyes. I envy him that view, to be physically walking toward Jesus. And yet, given that blessing, Peter still let the wind and waves distract him.
On the wire, I don’t see the Savior beckoning me forward, but perhaps that’s because He’s waiting to catch me, should I fall.
[Featured image via NYPL Digital Collections]