March 6, 2020
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“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
On November 12, 1859, a French acrobat named Jules Léotard performed the very first flying trapeze act at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris. As a teen, Jules tied ventilator cords over his father’s pool, where he practiced his midair maneuvers. His new art form wowed circus audiences, in part because it was done with no safety net. His close-fitting outfit caught their attention too! Jules Léotard is responsible for—you guessed it—the leotard.
The trapeze quickly became the featured act of the big-tent circus because of its inherent intrigue, the faultless timing necessary to pull it off, and the beauty of aerial ballet. In traditional trapeze, the flyer and the catcher climb tall ladders to small platforms, approximately forty feet in the air. The flyer has a fly bar. The catcher has a catch bar. And when it’s time for the flyer to let go, the catcher gives the signal.
Miguel Vargas is a fifth-generation circus performer who does training for Cirque du Soleil. According to Vargas, who’s been a trapeze artist since age seven, the greatest challenge when trying a new trick is the mental block—it’s hard to let go of the fly bar, because you’re about to do something you’ve never done before, forty feet in the air.
Letting go of the fly bar goes against every natural instinct, and the same is true of living generously. Our natural inclination is to hold on to what we have with tightly clenched fists. The mental block? Again, enough is never enough! You’ve got to overcome that mental block if you’re going to let go of the fly bar and flip the blessing.
Is there something you need to let go of? Is there something you’re holding on to out of fear, not faith? Like the Rich Young Ruler, you may think your savings account is your safety net. But it may be the very thing keeping you from flying. Or maybe you’re safeguarding your time instead of volunteering it. Perhaps it’s time to let go of your time, talent, and treasure in greater measure and see what God can do!
“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all,” said Martin Luther. “But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.