Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I'm Not a Trapeze Artist

I'd like to think I'm a daredevil and willing to do lots of wild and crazy things....but only if I don't have to rely on someone else when my neck is on the line.  Delegating duties that I deem important also does not come easily for me as I fear that no one else will attach the same level of significance to that which needs to be done.

Circus people amaze me.  Some of them put their heads into the gaping jaws of a lion.  Do they really trust the lion that much?  That's crazy!  The trapeze artists are just as certifiable by swinging on a bar at a dizzying height only to let go in hopes that someone else holding onto a bar with their legs will catch them.  No way could I ever do that.  I would never trust the other person to that degree.  Good thing I went to college.

Trusting is hard.  Trusting someone else with your life is very hard.  And then there's the real reason I've never really trusted anyone or anything -- I have never felt like I needed to.

Until now.

It took me almost 40 years of living to come to the end of the road that is me and my own strength.  I ignored all the Dead End signs along the way (thinking they applied to everyone else and not me) and here I am.  This stinks.  I'll be honest -- this REALLY stinks!  What a nice feeling it was thinking that there was something special about me that would always come through in a pinch.

Where is the magic now?  Where is all the bravado and brash confidence?  Where is the fancy footwork that always got me out of a jam in times past?  What happened?  Did I make a wrong turn somewhere?

I thought I had sufficiently credited God by thanking Him for giving me material wealth, a decent intellect and nice family and friends to share life with.  But now I'm in this place where the blessings have faded from sight and I'm having to...what exactly?  Trust something even more abstract and elusive than earthly blessings?  Believe that there is something out there so different from me and my own abilities that knows what I need and is willing to do something about it?

Why does this seem so hard?  I guess if it was so easy and came naturally, we would not need to be told to "Trust in the LORD...and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).  We can play all sorts of mental gymnastics to think we are trusting God, but if any of that "trust" is as a result of some part that we played or desperately holding on to some confidence in ourselves and not realizing just how broken and pathetic we really are, then I don't believe we are there quite yet.  This is the war that is being fought between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17).

I love the notion of "never giving up" and "fighting until the last breath" or the romance that endures insurmountable odds before coming to pass which are the stories that make great movies.  Much to my dismay, the screenplay that was my swashbuckling life got scuttled.  I am giving up.  I am done.  I am no longer the "x" that has to be in every equation.

Even as my flesh screams violently as I let go of the sinking Titanic that is me, there is a calming peace that comes with finally admitting what has been true all along:  I was made to trust.  I was created to do something that does not feel natural, because at some point along the way "the truth was exchanged for a lie."  I was created to trust the Creator.

Don't worry, this doesn't mean I'm going to run off and join the circus.


  1. I feel I have to recommit to "giving up" every day. I hope it gets easier because some days I fail miserably. My flesh and ego both scream "I can handle this myself!!!" and it is then that I fall flat on my face. Thank God for those face-planting moments or I sometimes might not remember that my own strength and ability is NOT enough. Good luck and Congratulations!

  2. The really cool thing is coming to the end of yourself, is the beginning of something really delightful. In fact, its so cool it seems too good to be true. The cool thing is this, as we give up trusting in ourselves, give up trying to be good enough and start to trust in God, he shares his Glory with us, by putting a new creation within us that is holy and blameless and is Jesus and yet it is also us. The mystery of the ages, Christ in us, the hope of Glory, and the two shall become one.

    As we begin to live in this trust, we get to begin to trust the new thoughts we find in our hearts, and these new thoughts are of divine origin, and they lead us further up and further in to God's glory.

  3. Elaine, I completely agree with you that there is an every day fight that occurs between the flesh and the Spirit. Thanks for "getting it."

    Scott, amen and amen. You've been investing in me for a long time now (25 years?). I thank God for you. Further up, further in...well said.

  4. You really struck a chord with me when you wrote about "deserving" good things because you've been a good person. I just finished PRODIGAL GOD and it shook up my ideas about that older brother . . . well, about me. This is a big fight for the church kid. I think for me surrender has come in tiny pieces and occasional big chunks. Neither is easy.