While growing up in Southern Indiana, my dad was a clown with the Shrine Circus. Being his son, I had some special privileges when the circus came to town. With these privileges, I got to see behind the scenes of a circus, I got to see circus animals up close (and sometimes too close), and I met many circus performers from across the world. Besides meeting a lot of clowns, I met animal trainers, acrobats, daredevils, jugglers, tight rope walkers, trapeze artists, Hollywood stars and more.
When I was recently reading about Henri Nouwen, (a priest, professor and theologian) he tells a story that reminded me of being around those circus performers when I was younger. Nouwen writes how he would go to the circus often, and how he became friends with a flying trapeze artist named Rodleigh.
Now, I can remember that the high flying trapeze artist was the one who always got the most attention during the trapeze act. This person was the daredevil and the one who always got the loudest applause. This is the person who would do triple back flips in the air and the crowd would go crazy. I can also remember that the catcher in the trapeze act being very muscular and strong with big arms.
One day, Nouwen was talking with Rodleigh about being a high flying trapeze artists and asking him questions. In their conversation, Rodleigh said, the audience thinks that I am the great star of the trapeze act, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher and he has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air. Rodleigh went on to tell Nouwen, the secret to the flying trapeze act is this: the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have to simply stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me.
So, Riverside, think about the flyer for a minute. When the flyer is swinging high above the crowd on the trapeze, there comes that moment when the flyer has to let go. It has to be an ultimate sense of vulnerability. It has to be a helpless feeling. And then, the flyer arches out into the air and reaches out his arms (or her arms) and remains as still as possible waiting to be caught. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher, but must trust with outstretched arms that his catcher will be there for him.
So, flyers have to trust their catchers. They can do the most spectacular doubles, triples, or quadruple flips through the air, but what finally makes their performance spectacular are the catchers who are there for them at the right time in the right place.
Friends. . . in life, do you trust God to be your catcher? With all the things you worry about. . . your health, your children, your job, your finances, the Covid-19 virus, these uncertain times, the unknown. . . do you trust Jesus to catch you with his outstretched arms?
Here’s a couple of my favorite scriptures to read in times like these:
Proverbs 3:5 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Joshua 1:9 - This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Galatians 3:26 - So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God.
Trust. Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are a child of God. Don't try to grab him. Stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust. And let Him grab you!
And here’s a quick prayer thought for you to pray. . .
Jesus, thank you for being my catcher and for faithfully taking care of my needs as you hold me in your strong, mighty and loving arms. My prayer today is to trust, trust, trust. To trust you to be my catcher!