The Tightrope Walker

Last summer (2013) Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a 2” cable.
On the starting side, Nik had several cameramen and newscasters, a small platform from which to step onto the cable, and his father. On the other side were the finishing platform, more cameras and newscasters, and his waiting family and friends. All looked very serious and focused. All expected success, with their expectations slightly colored by the persistent thoughts of “what if….”
I watched it on TV, spellbound and unable to leave my chair until it was over and success was, indeed, accomplished. What I saw kept me glued there. Nik, holding a 30 foot long pole (which weighed 43 pounds!), stepped from a platform to the wire, wearing normal clothes (jeans and a t-shirt) and shoes that looked like very old slippers. He just looked like a regular guy – no flash or sparkle. In his ear, he wore an ear-piece to listen to his father, who began his encouragement to his son immediately.
“You can do it, Nik”
“You’re doing great. Keep going. That’s it.”
“You’re ready for this. You can do this.”
And on and on he talked, softly giving both encouragement and instruction throughout the journey. Nik, however, spent the entire journey praying out loud. He was in conversation with his heavenly Father, both thanking Him for everything that was happening, and asking Him for specific things along the way.
The walk spanned 1,400 feet across the Canyon, 1,500 feet above the canyon floor. There was neither a safety net nor a harness. A fall would have been a death. The huge pole gave balance, but if it had begun to wobble too much, its own weight would have pulled Wallenda off of the wire. There were large weights hanging at intervals from the wire to help stabilize it, and he had to literally step over the obstructions on the wire every place where one was hanging. It was a precarious walk at best. But Nik was ready. He had been a member of this daredevil family for 34 years, and had practiced this skill of walking on small wires in dangerous places before. And he had always had his father, who he absolutely and literally trusted with his life.
So he went, because in his mind, he had to. He and his father had planned it, and he would do it. At this point, my literary mind thought that this was a good picture of God the Father directing His Son, Jesus, through the tumultuous years that He experienced here on earth in order to carry out their plan of salvation for us.
Very shortly after Nik had begun his 23 minute walk, the wind picked up. Watchers could see his jeans flap around his legs, and could hear him say, “Wow, the wind is stronger than we thought it would be.”
“It’s O.K., Son. You can do this. You are ready.”
Soon, the wire cable started to seriously vibrate, with so much movement that Wallenda had to squat down on it and wait for it to subside. Wallenda prayed, and his father talked into his ear, giving him the signal when it was safe to continue. Twenty-three minutes seemed like hours as I watched.
As he neared the opposite wall, the wire went uphill to the finishing platform. Watchers could see that he was exhausted. He kept looking up at the wall in front of him, and down at the river below, and I wondered what he was thinking. But, finally, he was there. He stepped onto the platform, set down his pole, and jumped onto the ground and safety. He hugged his wife and children, but before he could accept other congratulations, he quietly walked over to the edge of the cliff, and cried. I think maybe he was letting some adrenaline drain from him, and thanking his heavenly father for getting him across the great gulf. Before he could even turn around, his earthly father was back with him, having been brought across by helicopter. Father and son shared the victory, then he faced the cameras.
Again, I thought of God the Father and God the Son, finishing the work and being reunited. But this was an imperfect allegory since Jesus did die and was resurrected for us.
Then I heard Nik Wallenda’s interview a few days later. In it, he admitted that it was a much more difficult walk than he had expected it to be. One thing that made it so hard, and so different from other walks, was the problem of perspective. When he looked up at the wall in front of him, it always looked the same distance away. The cracks, colors, and changing light on the stone made it seem far away throughout the entire walk, right until he got up to it. The same was true of looking down. He expected to be able to use the river below as a gauge for how far he had come, but it always looked the same. He never seemed to be able to get to the other side of it. The optical illusion was brought about by the distance of height, but its effect was to give Nik the feeling that he was not progressing at all. In his mind, he knew that he had to be getting somewhere, because he was putting one foot in front of the other. He was moving, so he had to be progressing. But the illusion of not making progress could had been discouraging and disillusioning were it not for his father’s encouragement.
Now my literary mind realized what I was looking at – myself, and my grief; and what an accurate picture it was! It is a hard walk, encumbered with winds of sorrow and vibrations along the way when least expected. I am walking somewhat securely, when suddenly my tiny wire of security moves. As I squat down until it passes, my Heavenly Father talks in my ear:
“I have prepared you for this. You can do it. I am with you.”
In addition, my journey involves being enveloped in a cloud. Sometimes I can’t see the wall at all. I can’t even see past the next step. At other times, the cloud starts to lift, and I can see better that there is a future – a good and different future.
I may feel like there is no end, but there is. And the Heavenly Father will still be with me there. The perspective is faulty, and there is often the feeling that I am not getting anywhere, not progressing or going forward. But I trust God that I really am moving toward the far platform, and new terrain on which to walk. This insecure place will not always be my dwelling place. I will not always be stepping over weights in the way, or balancing with a huge heavy pole. Eventually, I will shed both, and be on stable ground. But through it all, God will still be with me. He uses family and friends to encourage and guide me, and I am blessed in abundance with them. Increasingly, the cloud is lifting.
The last 9 months were filled with good things as well as with grief. I have had trips with my children, grandchildren, and friends. These have afforded me calmness, peace and happy experiences. I have seen babies born, seen lots of movies, dined out often with sweet friends, taught the Joy Club Bible Study weekly (for seniors at St. Ann’s Retirement Center) and another one recently for young ladies, taken miles of walks around my lake, and worked the tornado disaster area with my therapy dogs.
Now I face November, December, and January. I, again, need your prayers for both me and my children and grandchildren. These months are full of important days that we shared with Kent in significant ways. Thanksgiving was always spent at our lake house for the weekend, playing outdoors, but also playing lots of games inside with Kent, and watching lots of sports on TV with Kent. It revolved around Kent. This year, most of us are going to spend it at Disney World! That will be a huge distraction! My heart, however, is with my son’s family, Lance, Stacy, Jake, and Emily. Right after Kent died, Stacy’s grandmother died. Grammy was the light and joy of that small family, and her absence will make a big hole. Please pray for comfort for them as they share happy memories of Grammy.
For the past five years, Kent and I spent the first two weeks of December in St. Thomas, resting and enjoying friends who would visit us there. I will greatly miss that, although I plan to attend a Christmas Festival in Colorado Springs for a few days to help distract part of that time period. (I am having someone else decorate my house for Christmas while I am gone, so that I do not have to do it myself.) Then, within ten days, starting on Dec 22nd, I have our wedding anniversary, Christmas, my birthday, and New Years. Last January, of course, was dominated by Kent’s final illness and passing. Please pray!
As you can see, the last part of my family’s first year without Kent is going to be dominated by a series of big events for us. We need you, and we have been so grateful for you throughout the year. Although I have not blogged for a long time, writing is one of those things that comes in waves. I have felt guilty for not writing except when I am needy, but I hope that will change with time, too. You, however, have been so faithful to keep up with me, and I feel very loved and cared for.
You have made this experience so much easier for us. I am praying that God will give you special blessings this season, as a gift from me and my family. Only He can thank you properly for such outpourings of yourselves to us.
Looking forward to what’s next,

About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

11 Responses to The Tightrope Walker

  1. Laura Manahan says:

    Davidene you are not alone in this journey – you have so many who are lifting you up each day. Although I can’t begin to imagine this road you are traveling, I do know our Heavenly Father is with you each step of the way. His promises being whispered to you with each step you take. I will pray for extra strength and peace during this “grand canyon” period of your walk. Know you are loved by so many and your life is such an inspiration in totally leaning on our Lord. Take care of yourself and reach out and hold on to friends, family and most of all our perfect Father – this will sustain you through this season.

  2. Brett Yohn says:

    Wonderful analogy, Davidene. You will be in our hearts and prayers for the next few months.

  3. Guy Madison says:

    Thank you for your post and for letting us know what is going on in your heart and with your family. Love you Davidene!

  4. Art Kimbrough says:

    Your journey is on our hearts and in our prayers constantly. It was so good to see you in Hawaii, even if for only for a few precious minutes. My the courage that can only be supplied through our Heavenly Father be with you through the coming season of memories. Art Kimbrough and family.

  5. Herman Reece says:

    Thank you! You have done it again. As you know, it has been 3 1/2 months since my precious Mareita – my bride of 60 years – went home with Jesus. This Tight Wire story and your story are very much like mine. I have just returned from two weeks at Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. I walked the beach holding my daughter’s hand instead of Mareita’s. She and my two sons were there and I was able to share Christ with the top 20 sales people and many others, as I referred to her going home with Jesus.
    Thank you again for your part in helping me walk this path with Him! Brother in Christ, Herman Reece

  6. Teri Mello (Tina's Sister) says:

    Davidene, thank you so much for sharing that blog. You and your family will be in my prayers in the days and months ahead.

  7. ynot1yesu says:

    Dear Davidene,
    Thank you for writing … was a blessing as my wife and I read it we are walking a tightrope in business….the illustration was so vivid for us that we heard God speak to us that the traveler may fear….but our guide is sure….dark may the night be yet we will make it to the other side. Thank you assuring you of our prayers as Jesus your ever living husband makes you a blessing during the months ahead. Wishing you Joy, Sara & Tony Bangalore India

  8. Wes Lane says:

    Wow – powerful story. I found myself getting anxious reading Nik’s experience. Marvelous life analogy Davidene! Thank you for this (I’ve forwarded to Lori). You and yours will be in our prayers dear lady!

  9. Carolyn Churchill says:

    Davidene, What a transparent photo of how your life changes are affecting you. Thank you for sharing this. I know that you talked with my prayer partner (Rita Spencer) recently at the Edmond widow’s meeting (in which she was very disappointed and asking God why He had her go there and if she is to go again). She has been a model for me as she has journeyed down the very hard road of losing your husband/best friend. I did forward this to her (I hope you don’t mind.) so that in case you meet again, she can make that connection with you. I do pray that His peace will continually flood your heart and mind as you cross each of these anniversary thresholds. By His Grace, Carolyn

  10. ptweaver says:

    Davidene, I will never be able to express myself as eloquently as you! This greatly touched my heart and brought back such special memories of Kent and our wonderful times together. What a blessing it is to have those precious memories. My heart is heavy with thoughts of you without Kent, and Peter and I regularly pray for you as you continue on with “life”. We know your strong faith will always be with you as you continue on this unwanted journey step by step. Whether you are taking baby steps or giant leaps, you are not alone. I hope you will call if you want to be with someone, etc. We love you! Terry (and Peter)


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