“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!”‘ (Luke 17:5)
Like many of you, I have found that one of the most difficult parts of faith is waiting. Often when we think of faith, we think of people taking great chances, at great risk, to do great things for the Lord. The reality is, however, much of the time in Scripture, faith proves itself most in its willingness to wait on the faithfulness of God.
It is especially difficult to trust in the Lord when you don’t know what the future holds. But again, the reality is, the future is, by definition, uncertain, so you never know how things are going to turn out. Which means you have to learn and practice patient faith in the midst of uncertainty, and “on the fly.”
Speaking of which, Catholic priest and theologian Henry Nouwen gave us a wonderful picture of patient trust not long before he died in 1996. Writing about some trapeze artists who became good friends of his, he explained that there is a very special relationship between the flyer and the catcher.
Now that makes sense to me, since if I was a flyer I would certainly want to be friends with the person who would be catching me out of the air. I would work real hard to make sure that we were all good, that there were no issues or lingering resentment that would come between us. I would want the catcher to like me a lot.
Nouwen explained further that as the flyer is swinging high above the crowd, the moment comes when he lets go of the trapeze and arcs out into the air. For that moment, which I imagine feels like an eternity, the flyer is suspended in nothingness. It is too late to reach back for the trapeze. There is no going back now. However, it is too soon to be grasped by the one who will catch him. He cannot move things forward, and accelerate the catch, no matter how hard he would try. In that moment, his job is to be as still and motionless as he can.
“The flyer must never try to catch the catcher,” the trapeze artist told Nouwen. “He must wait in absolute trust. The catcher must catch him But he must wait. His job is not to flail about in anxiety. In fact, if he does it, it could kill him. His job is to be still. To wait. And to wait is the hardest part of all.”
That is a wonderful picture of the difficult walk of faith–that requires complete trust in the Lord. We must learn to wait, with patient faith, ,and we cannot jump ahead of Him and try to take control. We can’t even allow ourselves to try to “catch the catcher.” We must be still, and wait. And to wait is the hardest part of all.
The last 12 months and this crazy season of pandemic have given us a wonderful opportunity–whether we liked it or not–to be still, and to wait. We may be uncomfortable when we don’t have a sense of control, but it is the perfect place to practice faith and grow our trust in God. Even when things are “unprecedented,” and even when our life is lived “on the fly.”
My prayer for each of us is that we will say on the back side of all this that God has grown our faith in Him, because we learned to wait patiently on Him. May the Lord bless you this week. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.