The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
When I go to the circus, I love to watch the trapeze artists. As the old song says, “they fly through the air with the greatest of ease.” They start with a stunt that (for them) is simple—one person swings from one trapeze to be caught by another. However, with each passing minute the tricks grow more and more difficult. Soon they are doing double somersaults or having two people trade places at the same time. Then, for the grand finale, one trapezist attempts a quadruple somersault with a half twist.
Often the trapeze artist fails his first attempt, missing the catcher’s hands by fractions of an inch and plummeting into the net below. The audience gasps as he falls, but applauds their encouragement while he scrambles back to the high platform to make another attempt. To the sound of a drum roll, the trapezist swings deliberately and powerfully back and forth. At just the right moment he releases, does the quadruple somersault and—miraculously—his partner catches him. The band erupts and the audience explodes in cheers and applause.
For me the trapeze artist is a metaphor for the Christian life that teaches at least three lessons. First, Failure Is Not Fatal. When the trapezist fails to complete her trick, she doesn’t fall to her death; she falls into the net. The same is true for the Christian. The Bible says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Dt. 33:27)”
Second, Failure Is the Prelude to Success. Before she ever begins to do stunts, the trapezist learns to fall. Only after she masters the art of falling, does she try something more adventurous. Even then, there are many more falls before she becomes an accomplished artist. When the trapezist fails to make a quadruple somersault in the midst of a show, it only heightens the drama for the audience and makes her subsequent success all the more sweet. Failure is not the end of everything; it is simply the prelude to success.
Third, The Church Exists to Encourage Risk Takers. The audience doesn’t boo when a trapezist fails to complete a stunt. Instead, they gasp with concern and applaud the trapezist’s courage when he gets back up to try again. The same should be true for the church. When people step out on faith to do something for God, it is our job to cheer them on.
Is God asking you to do something outside of your comfort zone? Go ahead; he’ll be there to catch you.