Although it was obvious that the gathered crowd was yelling and clapping, the roar of 6 million cubic feet of water per second pouring over the precipice muted their cheering, oddly resembling a silent home video. Standing on the edge of Niagara Falls was the subject of their excitement. Charles Blondin turned his back to the water and faced the crowd, still dangerously close to the lip of the drop-off. Making eye contact with the people gathered a safe distance off, he slowly stepped backward, and with quiet amusement, saw the faces gasp in unison. The tightrope under his feet gave way slightly under the weight and he took several more quick steps back, now far out from the safe reach of solid ground. He swayed dangerously to one side, arms swinging wildly in a seeming attempt to regain his balance… but it was only for show. Charles Blondin, or better known as the Great Blondin, was rumoured to be more capable on a tightrope than most people were on flat earth. Confidently, he balanced again and walked the rope back to the cliffs, and over to the crowd. The cheering resumed, louder this time.
Raising his hand for quiet, Blondin yelled above the din of the waters. “How many of you believe that I can cross the falls while carrying someone on my back?”
After a brief instant of incredulous silence, someone began an encore of affirmation, “Blon-din, Blon-din, Blon-din!” The cheer spread through the crowd like wildfire, until every single person gathered was verbalizing their confidence in the crazy idea.
Once again motioning for silence, Blondin asked, “Which one of you would like to be that someone?” The question had the same effect as a pin on an inflated balloon. Heads shook in utter astonishment, rejecting their own professions of faith. The Great Blondin had already crossed the falls several times, and once even while blindfolded. After several minutes of staring down individuals in the crowd, a familiar face pushed through the sea of bodies, “I was first to profess confidence in the Great Blondin. Here is my show of faith.”
As the duo walked back to the edge of the falls, Blondin’s manager, Harry Colcord, wished he could pour confidence into his shaking boots. Hopping onto Blondin’s back, Colcord, braced himself for the quarter mile trip across the falls, hoping he would not share the same fate as the water tumbling 110 feet down to the rocks at the bottom. As they stepped out onto the thin thread that stretched from Canada to the United States, what little courageous blood was flowing through his veins drained from him and his face took on the pallor of crisp, white hotel sheets, but it was too late for a change of mind. His ride took one step in front of another, and yet it seemed to Colcord that they must be walking in place. What seemed a lifetime later, they reached the first guy-rope and rested in relative safety before continuing. Then, midway between the first and second safety ropes, their lifeline began to sway violently. Trying desperately to counteract the unpredictable movements of the tightrope, Charles also was battling the terrified attempts of his companion to correct their balance. Charles took off at a relative run across the swaying rope for the next guy-rope. Reaching it safely, he spoke solemnly to his frightened passenger. “If we are going to make it the rest of the way across, my friend, you will have to cease to be Harry Colcord, and become a part of me. You must do nothing apart from me. Rely on me completely or you will not make it to the other side.” Colcord did as he was instructed, trusting in the professional to do the work and get them to safety. The two men found their feet once again on solid ground and were never more grateful for the dirt beneath their feet.
While it is certainly not advisable to attempt a daring feat like this at home, there is indeed something that we ought to try at home, work, and play—the complete reliance upon the one and only Man who can help us safely to the other side. In acting on our own accord rather than trusting completely in Jesus and acting in faith with Him, we accomplish nothing but our own destruction.
Memory verse: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6.