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Pastor Glenn McDonald: The Ultimate Catcher

There are two kinds of trapeze artists: flyers and catchers.


Flyers get most of the love. They make amazing leaps. They do somersaults in mid-air.  


But as devotional writer Henri Nouwen pointed out, the real heroes are the catchers. In his book Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring, Nouwen writes: 


“The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artists who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum. I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers.


“The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduced myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner, 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 Rodleigh, 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, but 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.’


"’How does it work?’ I asked.  


“’The secret,’ Rodleigh said, ‘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,’ Rodleigh repeated. ‘The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to 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 Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.’”


Nouwen concludes, “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. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust."

God makes it clear that life is not about flying solo.  The author of the book of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: “Two are better than one… For if they fall, one will lift up the other. But woe to the one who is alone when he or she falls and has no one to help!” (Eccles 4:9-10)


I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” That oft-repeated phrase has sold a fair number of emergency response devices for people who are going through life alone. 


All of us are bound to “fall” metaphorically from time to time. But even in the middle of a bustling crowd or a gregarious family, we may feel spiritually, relationally, or emotionally cut off. 


If you feel like you’re flying solo today, will anybody be there for you?


There is One who will always be there. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling…” (Jude 23)


You are the jumper. God is the ultimate catcher.


And we can never fall so far in our hearts that God cannot catch us.

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