Recently I had an interesting discussion with a good friend regarding the above statement. We tossed around words like “believe” and “faith” and traveled down the many divergent paths those roads lead to. It boiled down to a basic question:
“Is believing in something the same as having faith in something?”
What do you think?
Is there a difference between the two? If no – then why not? If yes – then what?
Why don’t you take a second or two and think about it…
Okay, that’s enough – times up – what did you come up with?
Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? Should go – something marvelous to see – but more so to feel. You may recall that a few years back the famous daredevil, Wallenda, walked across the Horseshoe Falls. It was on TV and was an amazing feat to watch, sitting on the edge of my seat with my heart in my throat.
It seems there’s always been a special attraction for watching those daring souls venture across the mighty Niagara on a wire or rope. There has been a stream of ‘rope walkers’ doing crazy things over Niagara ever since we called it “Niagara”.
“The good pictures were of those guys who walked across the gorge on tightrope. Of course, they weren’t ropes at all but wires (why didn’t they call them “tightwires”?), and everyone always said those guys walked across Niagara Falls, but I’d never seen a picture of anyone doing that. It was always the gorge they walked across, away from the Falls. No matter, these guys were amazing. They did everything out there on those wires, suspended over the middle of the gorge with that wild river below them.” Journeys Across Niagara
Check out the picture below.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Niagara Falls and its history, that’s the famous Blondin, considered the greatest wirerope walker who ever lived. He was born Jean Francois Gravelot, on February 28th, 1824 in St. Omer, Pas de Calais in Northern France. Blondin came to Niagara in early 1858.
He was obsessed with crossing the Niagara on a tightrope and on June 30th 1859, he became the first person to amaze the world by successfully walking over the Niagara Gorge. He utilized a 1,100 foot long – 3 inch diameter manila rope stretched from what is now Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, New York to what is now Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario. During that historic summer of 1859, Blondin completed eight more crossings.
The following year, on September 15th, 1860, he once again precariously inched his way across the swirling, violent waters roaring below, traveling from America to Canada.
As Blondin stepped off the rope, the amazement of the crowd erupted into a roar of cheers, applause and shouts. As it subsided, Blondin spoke.
“Do you believe I can cross back over the falls again?” he asked.
The crowd yelled enthusiacticly back, “Yes! Yes, you can! We believe.”
Blondin responded, “Do you believe I could cross back over carrying a man on my back?”
The crowd roared back in reply, “Yes! Yes, we believe!”
Blondin asked, “Okay – who will volunteer to go with me?”
The crowd was silent.
Blondin pointed to an onlooker nearby and asked, “Will you?”
The onlooker shook his head violently – “No – not me”.
“Will you?” He asked, pointing to another admirer.
“Uh – Umm – No, I can’t….No”
“Is there anyone who will trust me?”
Blondin turned to his manager, Harry Colcord. “Harry, do you believe I can carry you across?” he asked.
“Yes, Charles, I believe you can,” Harry replied.
“Then will you trust me to climb onto my back?” Charles asked.
Harry replied, “I will.”
Harry Colcord stepped onto the platform with Blondin and climbed onto his back.
“Sit still and don’t move” Blondin said, “Just let me walk. I got you and I won’t let you fall.”
Blondin, with his balancing pole in hand, slowly began to walk back across the Falls.
Half way across, some of the guy ropes holding the manila ‘tightrope’ snapped, loosening the ‘tightrope’ and allowing more sway in the wind and mist.
Stepping onto the platform on the American side, Blondin became the greatest tightrope walker in history.
So, i ask again, “Is Belief Enough”?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
This is the basis of Christianity–our promise – our hope and our salvation – the requirement for eternal life. In light of the story of Blondin, it begs the question about the meaning of the word “believe.”
The ‘believers’ in the crowd that day believed Blondin could cross Niagara carrying a man. Yet, when Blondin asked for someone to go with him, belief was no longer sufficient to make the journey. For someone to put their life in Blondin’s hands, and become one with him on the rope, required something more than belief.
It required pisteuo, Faith.
It takes Trust.
The Greek word for “believe” used in John 3:16 is pisteuo. While “believe” is the best English word we have for pisteuo, in the Greek, it evokes a deeply held form of belief that implies acting on the belief. A better translation would be “belief with unhindered trust.”
While Harry Colcord believed in Charles Blondin, he took it further. He acted on his belief with faith and trust when he climbed onto Blondin’s back. The entire crowd believed in Blondin, but only Harry had faith enough to trust him – to step out from the crowd, taking his belief to an active level of faith and trust.
Trust was the difference! Trust is belief set in motion by faith.
Does God call us to only believe in Him while standing in the crowd? Or does He call us to step out in faith, to trust Him and walk with Him. (Notice there was no crowd out on the ‘tightrope’.)
He’s asks, “Will you trust me?”
So what does trust look like? Many people believe in Jesus with their mind, but if He pointed at them to ask if they trusted him to carry them, they’d recoil and say “Not today, I can’t risk my life like that!”
Notice – He doesn’t ask us to walk across the ‘abyss’ alone. Oh no, He just asks us to have faith and trust Him while He carries us across the ‘abyss’. We don’t need to know how to walk – we just need to put our trust in Him and let Him do the walking.
Whatever our situation is, the answer is simple–trust Him. He has proven he is trustworthy. He has shown us that. He allowed Himself to die for us – when He could have ended it at any time. He is calling us to step out on faith–to become one with Him as He carries us across the perilous gulf of this world.
His hand is outstretched and He asks, “Do you trust Me?”
So – what do you think?
Until Next time – Embrace your Bridges – for they define who you are.