The late Henri Nouwen, whose pastoral ministry focused on social justice, compassion, spiritual disciplines, and community, was well-known for his teaching and writing. In one of his books, he related a lesson he had learned at the circus. He evidently knew some of the trapeze artists who soared through the air, thrilling crowds with their daring exploits. They told him about the vital relationship between “flier” and “catcher.” The first has to not only know when he has reached the right height, but also to be able to let go at the right time. The second, hanging by his knees, must also master the timing necessary while staying in perfect position. It is a natural instinct for the flier to try to grab the catcher, but he has to wait to let the catcher grab him. He must have complete trust.
In the story of Abraham and Sarah, there were certainly times when complete trust was missing. Both tried to grab on to God instead of waiting for God to catch them. They had to believe that God would keep His word, that He would remain faithful. It is interesting to note that both are listed in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11. Abraham was justified by his faith, not his works. He was called a friend of God, but he had his moments of doubt and times when he acted hastily.
When we get ahead of God, we can experience humiliation and regret … much like Abraham and Sarah did. It is hard to wait for the right moment, to believe God will catch us when we leap.
One thing is true for trapeze artists: If you never let go, you have no show.
Jesus told a story about three servants, each entrusted with differing amounts of money. The first two doubled their funds; the third guy buried his, playing it safe. When it was time for the accounting, the first servants were rewarded while the third one lost what he had been given.
We can try to ‘live safe’ – take no risks, but isn’t there more to life than that? The oft-quoted Wayne Gretzky comes to mind: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
We congratulate our graduates, those who have accomplished significant milestones. Keep aiming high!