OK, so here’s the second illustration I found AFTER the book had gone to the printers that I wish I could’ve included, and will include in a second printing if there is one. This comes from one of my favorite authors, the Catholic priest, mystic, and prolific author Henri J. M. Nouwen, from his book “Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring” In it he shares the story of his association with a troupe of German trapeze artists. He writes:
“The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduce myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, and suggested I travel with them for a week in the near future. I did, and we became good friends.”
“One day, I was sitting with Rodliegh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying. He said, ‘As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump….The secret….is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar.'”
“You do nothing!” I said, surprised.
“Nothing,” Rodliegh repeated. ‘The worst thing the flyer can do is to try and catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It’s Joe’s task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe’s wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly,and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.'”
“When Rodliegh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit. Dying is trusting in the catcher. To care for the dying is to say, ‘Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don’t try to grab him, He will grab you. Jut stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.'”
What a beatiful picture of dying. The believer’s job is to trust, God’s part is to catch, and guess what – GOD NEVER MISSES!
I have one more such illustration and will publish it when I find it.