Suspended Faith

I once portrayed Jesus in a Christmas production. I grew my hair out for nearly a year, added extensions and slathered on a fake tan. By the time of the December rehearsals, the look was complete. The show dramatized the teachings and miracles of Jesus as well as his death and resurrection. Onstage, everything was smooth and flowing; backstage was a flurry of activity from propmasters, stage crews, lighting and sound technicians, and a host of makeup and wardrobe volunteers. Near the end of the production, there was one scene requiring a specialized technical team.

During the ascension, Jesus was required to fly on a straight-line vertical from the stage to the catwalk above the arena. At the end of a very late-night rehearsal, sometime around 3:00 in the morning, the flight team began to go over the safety protocol with me and how to use the equipment. On each side of a claustrophobically-tight mountaineering harness was a thick metal carabiner (a metal loop with a spring-loaded gate) for quick attachment to cables or ropes.

“We’ll clip the cables in here,” the technician said as he moved the carabiners around to the correct orientation. “Then we’ll fly you up remotely.” I nodded.

“You nervous?” he asked, smiling.

“Not really, no,” I replied.

He smirked and said, “They always say that.”

As another man brought the cable ends over, I followed the lines upward with my eyes until they disappeared into the glare of the lights high above the arena floor. Still looking to the ceiling, I asked, “What is the breaking point of these cables?”

“1200 pounds. Each. Even if one failed catastrophically, the other one is more than enough to hold you…of course, you would be spinning like a propeller,” he said while he clipped the cable ends to the harness.

I mumbled, “That’s great reassurance. Thanks.”

They took me to a height of one foot to allow the harness to “settle” (meaning, to allow me to feel like all the circulation in my legs was cut off). I was taken to three feet and then to ten. I told the technician with the remote that we could cut out the gradual acclimation to the height. “Take it to the top,” I said. He smiled and punched the button.

Within a couple of seconds, I was suspended 75 feet above the area floor, swaying gently. I heard the winch operator shout up, “Hey man. We need to check on something. You are accelerating way too fast. Just hand tight for a bit.”

Looking down at him, I said, “I’m not going anywhere.” While the team looked at the computer screen and began recalibrating the ascent speed, I just sat in my harness, alone, high in the air.

I felt the harness stretch a little and heard a little creak from one of the wires. That was the moment I began to consider what it might feel like to fall through a stage and onto a concrete floor. For ten minutes I sat suspended while contemplating life, faith and the integrity of metal wires the diameter of a pencil.

What was the difference in those wires when I was one foot off the ground compared to the wires at 75 feet in the air? Nothing. A twelve-inch drop would cost less than a plummet from the ceiling, but it was the same wires the entire time.

We all face moments when God unspools our faith so we must place our entire dependence upon him. But we will never know how to rest fully upon God unless we are willing to leave the floor behind. If your faith can’t be tested, your faith can’t be trusted.

How is God testing your faith in this season? Are you depending upon your own worldly vision and understanding to make choices or are you taking everything to God through prayer? Do you truly believe that God is holding you up and that he controls all things, or do you have some areas where you are trying to “help” God with your own power?

Pray that…         

We will not depend on what we can see, but upon the trust in the “unseen” reality of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

We will always seek God’s truth, instead of our personal understanding, as the foundation of our faith. – Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

We will be obedient to God in taking the next, clear step of faith even if we don’t know where he is leading us. – Hebrews 11:8: By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.

We will trust God fully in every area of life and avoid panic when his plan looks different from the plan that “makes sense” to us. – Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.                               

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