Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As a child, there were many things I wanted to be “when I grew up”—but a trapeze flyer was not one of them! I recall watching these artists at work and being both fascinated and frightened. I’d hold my breath as they’d let go of the trapeze bar, soar through the air and be caught (hopefully) by a fellow artist. I wasn’t sure I would be able to trust anyone enough to take that leap of faith!
Miguel and Juan Vazquez were among the best trapeze flyers in the business. In 1982 they made history in Tucson, Arizona, when 17-year-old Miguel landed the first quadruple somersault on the flying trapeze (watch him do it on another occasion at http://youtu.be/qFEB7yFGgYE). This was a stunning accomplishment, not only because no one else had done it before, but because most experts thought it impossible. Miguel got a lot of praise, but the true hero was the catcher, Miguel’s brother, Juan.
Here is how Juan described the event in the book, The Greatest Trick:
Hanging upside down, I am swinging toward [Miguel] as he is hurtling toward me at 75 miles per hour. Now I’m reaching for him; my hands are straining toward his, his hands are straining toward mine. I have him! Our hands are locked and holding!
Even the most expert trapeze flyer is unable to pull out of a quadruple spin and grab the bar on their own. The catcher must grab the arms of the spinning acrobat, pull them in and then not drop them. Who would you trust to do that for you?
Fortunately, most of us will never be called upon to fly from a trapeze bar hoping that our partner will catch us. But we all will face situations in life where we must reach out in trust—and such trust doesn’t develop overnight. Miguel learned to completely trust Juan over years of working together.
Trust seems to develop in two ways: 1) Directly, through a relationship that involves trusting a person over a period of time. 2) Indirectly, through watching another person trust someone, and then, through that example, learning to trust that someone yourself. Both methods apply in learning to trust God.
Here are people of faith in the Bible who we can learn from:
- Noah believed God’s plan for him to build an ark.
- Abraham believed God’s covenantal promise to bless everyone through him.
- Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about the final resting place of his bones.
- Moses’ parents hid him for three months.
- Moses encountered God in the burning bush and led his people out of captivity.
- Joshua followed God’s plan to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land.
- The disciples left their respective jobs and followed Jesus.
- Paul went on his various missionary journeys.
- And, as the author of Hebrews writes:
I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground (Hebrews 11:32-38).
The Spirit enables us to learn to have faith in God through these examples of amazing trust. As we read the stories of faith in the Bible, we learn that God was, is and always will be faithful to us. No matter what Israel did, God remained faithful to his people and to the covenant he made with them. The Lord was also faithful in his mercy and love and faithful to his plan to send his Son to be the Redeemer, Reconciler and Savior not only of Israel, but of all people, everywhere and in all times. Reflecting on these examples, we learn to trust God as we grow in our own relationship of faith with him.
In Jesus, God has given us the perfect brother to work alongside: “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11). We trust Jesus because he is always with us and for us. Whether stumbling through the routine of daily challenges, or facing unexpected crises that feel like flying through the air doing quadruple somersaults, we know that Jesus is there to catch us—every time. Hear his words of reassurance:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).
We are secure in Jesus! We can trust him completely to always catch us, no matter how many “somersaults” life brings our way.
Trusting Jesus with you,
P.S. We recently posted at www.gci.org/media/conference2014 video and audio recordings of the plenary presentations given at the 2014 U.S. regional conferences. I encourage you to watch them if you were not able to attend one of the conferences and to share them with others. They unpack our conference theme of GCnext: sharing Jesus’ faith, love & hope.