January 23, 2008

“Catching” God

2008 1503 page31 capor a moment, imagine yourself as a trapeze artist. You grasp the trapeze bar, kick off of the platform, and swing out into space. You maneuver into position, hanging from the bar by your knees and legs. You swing back and forth, gaining momentum as you go higher and higher, dozens of feet above the ground. Then, at precisely the right instant, you release from the bar and fly into the air—totally unconnected to anything or anyone. But you know it’s only for a couple of seconds, because you trust your catcher will be at the right place, at just the right moment, and will catch you.
Do you trust God? Is your trust unlimited? Do you trust Him as much as a trapeze flyer trusts their catcher?
A successful trapeze act depends on trust between the flyer and the catcher. That doesn’t mean the flyer never feels fear. He or she can’t stop the inborn fear of falling. But the successful flyer doesn’t yield to it. They simply have to trust the catcher.
Did you know there’s an unwritten rule that the flyer cannot, must not, look for the catcher? Instead, the flyer must focus on a spot high above them so as to reach maximum height in flight. At the apex of flight, the flyer’s arms are outstretched, ready to be caught. As the flyer starts falling toward the ground, they are still looking up and waiting, trusting the catcher will catch them.
2008 1503 page31Why can’t the flyer look for the catcher to make sure they fly right into the catcher’s grasp? Simply put, because it isn’t the flyer’s job. The flyer’s responsibility is to fly and precisely perform all their maneuvers. The catcher’s job is to precisely catch the flyer.
The catcher watches the flyer throughout the routine, but the flyer can’t fly high if they must look for the catcher at the same time. Not only that, but when tricks are complicated and the flyer is tumbling, twisting, and somersaulting through the air, they have no time to look for the catcher. When the flyer exits the trick, they are stretched out and ready to be caught.
Besides, the flyer doesn’t have to see their partner. They trust the catcher to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right instant to snatch them out of the air. And they know the catcher has the strength and ability to hold them throughout the rest of the routine, until they can return to the trapeze bar or drop safely to the net below.
Even if the flyer could look for the catcher, they would be working at odds with each other. Instead of making it easier to be caught, the flyer would actually make it more difficult for the catcher.
Why would a flyer try to catch the catcher? One reason—lack of trust—doubt that the catcher will be there to catch them. Even though the catcher has caught the flyer during past performances, the flyer can still doubt.
Aren’t we sometimes like a trapeze flyer with God as our catcher? He promises to be faithful to our needs. He assures us He will “catch us” when we need to be caught—we only have to trust. But instead of trusting and just letting Him do it, we try to manipulate ourselves into catching Him.
Catching God doesn’t work, however. Where God is concerned, we have to have the trust the
way a trapeze flyer trusts their catcher—with certainty. We do our part faithfully and then trust we will be caught, never doubting that at precisely the right moment God’s strong hands will grip us even though we never see Him. All we have to do is fly toward Him and let Him catch us—every time.
Richard J. Bauman is a freelance writer living in West Covina, California. His articles have appeared in more than 350 different publications, and he is author of the book Awe-Full Moments: Spirituality in the Commonplace.