Charles Blondin is arguably the greatest tightrope walker in history. In 1859, with large crowds looking on, he stretched out an 1,100-foot rope across the raging waters of Niagara Falls and walked across it from the American side to the Canadian side. The crowds erupted in applause.
Then he walked across pushing a wheelbarrow. When he got to the other side he reportedly said, “How many of you believe I can put a person in this wheelbarrow and push them across the tightrope?” Everybody cheered with belief that he could do it. But when he asked for a volunteer, there was silence. No one raised their hand. It is one thing to say you believe in something; it is another thing altogether to actually act on that belief. Until you take action, there is no power in your belief.
Jesus lived a life filled with great feats – turning water into wine, healing the lame and the blind, feeding five thousand people on just five loaves and two fish and even rising from the dead. Now Jesus is turning to us and asking for volunteers to experience the same kind of power.
The power is already resident in those who believe. In Paul’s writing to the Ephesians believers, he tells them that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. (Ephesians 1:18-20) To activate this power we must get off dry land and jump into the wheelbarrow in complete trust in God’s will. This is precisely what Jesus did. Every second of his life was focused on doing the will of the Father. Even at the age of twelve he told his parents, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)
The life of empowerment is activated when we trust and follow Jesus onto the tightrope of aligning our lives to the will of the Father. When our lives are aligned to God’s will, it activates the power of the Spirit in us to do mighty things. Jesus even said we would do greater things than he did. (John 14:12)
If you are willing, your next question is likely the same one I have – “How do I know the will of the Father for my life? How do I hear his voice?” British pastor and author, Frederick B. Meyer, offers three “witnesses” or “lights” to confirm we heard the voice of God.<1>
Meyer writes, “The Word is the wire along which the voice of God will certainly come to you if the heart is hushed and the attention fixed.”<2> When Jesus is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, on all three occasions he fires back with quotes from the scriptures. Jesus is showing us that the will of the Father in responding to temptation and facing critical decisions is found in the Bible. Jesus knew the Word, trusted the Word, and deployed the Word. As a result, he had power to defeat his archenemy. That same source of guidance and power is available to us. There is no substitute for learning God’s Word, as Jesus did. “I have hidden your word in my heart” wrote the psalmist, “that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
As believers, we have the Spirit residing in us to speak to us and to give us counsel. The Bible also refers to this as God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). The late Dallas Willard believes this is the primary subjective way that God addresses us.<3> So do the Apostle Paul –
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)
God is not trying to hide his will from us. We don’t have to have a special magnifying glass or decoder ring to figure it out. The Spirit has been given to us to reveal God’s will and to empower us to follow it.
Meyer writes, “The circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God’s will, when they concur with the inward promptings of the Spirit and with the Word of God.”<4> God often communicates his will through our circumstances. It will likely take time to discern it but keep your eyes open and in time you will see it and have the confidence to move forward. When these circumstances line up with God’s word and his still small voice, you know he will also give you the power to see it through.
Charles Blondin did end up getting a volunteer – guy named Harry Colcord. Instead of climbing in the wheelbarrow, he jumped on Blondin’s back. Here are the instructions Blondin gave him: “Look up, Harry…you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Until I clear this place be a part of me, mind, body and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Don’t attempt to do any balancing yourself.” They successfully crossed to the other side.
Jesus extends a similar invitation to us. During our journey here on earth, we must become one with Jesus – mind, body, and soul. That’s how we will make it over to the other side – to that place where we can access his mighty strength, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
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<1> Frederick B. Meyer, The Secret of Guidance (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1997, 2010)
<2> Meyer, The Secret of Guidance, 42
<3> Dallas Willard, Hearing God ((Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2012) 118, 130
<4> Meyer, The Secret of Guidance, 28,29