Last week, during the opening worship of General Synod in Baltimore, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive for Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, shared the story of Charles Blondin, a famous French tightrope walker.
Charles was the first person to cross a tightrope stretched 11,000 feet over Niagara Falls. People came from all over to witness this feat, which he did several times. One time he did it in a sack. Another on stilts. A third time on a bicycle. He crossed in the dark and he crossed blindfolded. On one of his trips he carried a stove and cooked an omelet halfway across.
And then he did it pushing a wheelbarrow. When he got to the other side he called out to the crowd, asking them if they thought he could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow. The crowd cheered and applauded—“Of course you can do it!” they shouted.
So, he turned to them and asked: “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?”
Of course, no one did.
In her sermon, Traci encouraged all of us to make another choice—a choice to get in the wheelbarrow. She encouraged us to take a chance and be daring enough to step out in faith (or get pushed out, as the case may be). Throughout General Synod all of us returned to this metaphor often as we spoke of what it means to be the church together. Sometimes we have to just get in the wheelbarrow and trust that God is going to guide us. If we don’t get into the wheelbarrow we will never be able to give God the opportunity to show us the way.
What are the wheelbarrows in your life that have you hesitating? Where are the places that you hear God’s encouragement to get in and trust but, even then, you are wary?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the wheelbarrows in my life. For some of them, I can honestly say I’m willing to jump in. For others, I’m doing my best to trust and raise my hand to answer God’s call. And, there are a few wheelbarrows that I’m sticking my toe in but not quite ready to fully commit.
For all the wheelbarrows in my life, I pray, God will continue to encourage me because the work that God is calling me to is too important to just stand by and watch.
May you each find your own wheelbarrows this week and jump in!