Walking a Tightrope


On July 30, 1859, 35-year-old Jean-Francois Gravelet – better known as “Blondin” – walked across a tight rope across the Niagara River just above the falls. The rope was stretched 1100 feet and it was 160 above the raging waters. After that he went on to cross the falls a dozen more times. Each time he would try something new and unique. He did it blind folded. He did it pushing a wheelbarrow. Once he took a small table and a stove and cooked eggs.

The novelty was wearing thin. What could he do to make the crowds keep coming back. Blondin thought that it might thrill the crowds if he did it with someone on his back. But who was crazy enough to do that? He looked at his manager Harry Colcord.

“Do you really believe in me. . .”

Colcord grudgingly agreed.

The first time I came across that story I thought, “Now that’s faith. Do you really believe? Climb on board.” Difference between saying you believe and really believing.

But then I came across the rest of the story. Harry Colcord’s account.

1000 feet is a long way to carry another man. About half-way across Blondin got tired and stumbled. They stopped. Harry climbed down and so Blondin could rest. Then he carefully climbed back up. Blondin had to stop and rest four more times. They got into more trouble when they came to a guy rope near the Canadian side. The tightrope started swaying dangerously and Blondin struggled to keep his balance. Then a guy rope broke. And the pair nearly fell. When Blondin finally came to the Canadian shore he was drenched in sweat and Harry Colcord’s eyes were shut tight.

Colcord later said, “The ordeal was a nightmare from beginning to end.”

Sometimes we do that. We think, “Man this is it. This is the big deal and so we rush into things without really checking it out. And we get burned.” Have you done that before? Maybe you’re doing it right now.

My dad used to have a phrase, “Son,” he would say, “Look before you leap.” Know what you are getting into.

He didn’t know it, but my dad was giving me biblical counsel.

(Proverbs 22:3) A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

One of the aspects of wisdom is learning to predict the problems and make wise choices. And the result is a life that is a lot less stressful. Sounds good doesn’t it. So be wise. Check it out first. Look before you leap.

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