Life on the line
When stepping out for Jesus feels like a high wire act, we need to be brave.
This article is an excerpt from Travis Barne's new book, Brave in the making.
Nik Wallenda, quite literally, puts his life on the line.
Nik Wallenda is a tight rope walker; he has over ten Guinness World Records for acrobatic feats and has performed some of the most daring and dangerous tight rope walking feats in history.
- In 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to tight rope walk directly over Niagara Falls.
- In 2013, he tight rope walked across the Grand Canyon with no safety harness.
- In 2020, he tight rope walked across the Masaya Volcano; an active volcano in Nicaragua.
- In 2014, he walked between two skyscrapers across the Chicago River. Wallenda walked more than 600 feet above the ground with no safety harness. If that weren’t enough; the buildings were not the same height with Wallenda walking uphill on an incline of 19 degrees. After completing that walk, he then completed a second walk between two buildings this time blindfolded.
Crazy brave or just crazy?
Nik Wallenda is a committed Christian who can be heard praying and thanking God as he walks. Nik Wallenda divides opinion: some aren’t sure whether he’s brave, crazy-brave, or just crazy.
Like him or not he’s impossible to ignore; his skyscraper walks in Chicago were broadcast in over 200 countries across the world and were Discovery channel’s most-watched live telecast for the year.
If you thought tight rope walking between two buildings was daring, we find an even more impossible situation in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel.
In chapter 13, Israel is in a battle against their arch-rivals the Philistines. The Israelites and the Philistines were fierce enemies for generations and during the reign of Israel’s King Saul, it’s the Philistines who had the upper hand.
No weapons and no morale
When Israel saw how badly outnumbered they were, they lost their nerve and went missing. King Saul is camped at Gilgal; his men are trembling in fear. To make matters worse the Israelites don’t possess any weapons.
The Philistines were so dominant that they didn’t allow any blacksmiths to operate in the land of Israel. Whenever an Israelite needed to sharpen their axe for cutting wood or sharpening their sickle to cut grain, they had to pay a Philistine blacksmith. The Israelites would have to pay their enemies a fee.
When it came to the battle against the Philistines only King Saul and his son Jonathan had swords. In one corner we have the Philistine army with troops numbering the grains of sand on the seashore and in the other corner we have Israel with a vanishing army, no weapons, and no morale.
Jonathan’s high wire act
It’s against this gloomy backdrop that Jonathan steps up and takes action. “Come on,” Jonathan said to his armour bearer, “Let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.”
The idea that two men would take on an entire is reckless and foolhardy. Like tightrope walking across Niagara Falls, Jonathan is asking for trouble. Jonathan however is looking at this challenge from a different perspective.
He’s not making his decisions based on the might of Israel’s army but rather on the might of Israel’s God. Jonathan tells his armour bearer, “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
Jonathan would remember the story of Gideon, a previous Judge of Israel, who defeated the Midianite army numbering many thousands with only three hundred troops. Jonathan knows something about his God. He knew something about God’s power and might that everyone else in Israel seemed to have forgotten. Jonathan knows God doesn’t need a big army to have a big victory.
The strength of perhaps?
Jonathan isn’t certain of a victory. He says ‘perhaps’ the Lord will help us. Would you be willing to put your life on the line on the strength of a ‘perhaps’?
Jonathan is taking a courageous stand but he’s mindful of God’s leading as he does. He sets up a ‘fleece’ to seek God’s guidance. Jonathan plans to let the Philistines see them and if the Philistines invite them to fight Jonathan will take it as a sign that God will give them the victory. When the Philistines see Jonathan they shout, “come on up here and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
Life on the line
Jonathan and his armour-bearer put their lives on the line. They engage the Philistines in battle and kill about twenty men.
Suddenly the Philistines army is struck with panic and on top of the confusion, God sends an earthquake throwing the Philistines into total chaos. One-minute King Saul is losing troops the next thing his troops are returning because the Philistines are in such confusion, they’ve begun fighting each other! Israel has a great victory because Jonathan bravely stepped up when others stepped back.
Brave in the making
You too can be brave like Jonathan when you remember that God is strong and God is with you. When you take a risk, step out and lead because if you do ‘perhaps’ there might be a good outcome. When you put yourself out there, risking failure because there are some things worth standing up and speaking out over. When you do that; you’re brave in the making.