If you've ever watched legendary daredevil Nik Wallenda perform his high-wire walk over places like Niagara Falls or an active volcano, your heart probably pounded out of fear that he would fall. But Nik, who prays and praises Jesus during all his walks, never felt afraid himself until a near-fatal mishap in 2017. Nik had assembled a team to perform a four-layer, eight-person pyramid on the high-wire. They trained successfully for six weeks, eventually raising the wire to 30 feet above the ground. During the final rehearsal, however, the pyramid collapsed.
During a Christopher Closeup interview about his book Facing Fear, Nik recalled, "My sister, my aunt, and several other close friends fell to the ground. It is by the grace of God that I caught the wire and held on, as did my cousin, and one other friend. But my sister Lijana landed on her face. She broke every bone in her face. She was in a coma. She had bleeding of the brain, bleeding on her kidneys, broken legs, a broken arm. . . . What I didn't realize was: I was physically safe or unharmed. Mentally, I was severely damaged."
For the first time in his life, Nik experienced fear. Initially, he tried overcoming it by himself, without talking to anybody. But that approach left him worse off. Finally, he opened up about his feelings to his wife Erindira, which opened him up to healing. Nik now relies on God to deal with fear, taking special comfort in the quote from 1 Peter 5:7: "Cast your fears upon Him, for He cares for you."
Nik explained, "God puts people in our lives to help us through tough situations. . . . There's one prayer that I pray more than anything: that God will give me wisdom. We have to be wise in the people that we surround ourselves with prior to a traumatic experience, just as much as we do afterwards. If you surround yourself with positive people, you're generally going to start to be that type of person."
Thankfully, Lijana's recovery proceeded incredibly well. Having dealt with his own fears, Nik began thinking of ways to "redeem the accident" for her. That happened when he received permission to perform a high-wire walk between two skyscrapers in New York City's Times Square. Nik asked Lijana if she would like to join him, and she agreed almost immediately. Nik began his walk on one side, with Lijana starting on the other. When they met in the middle, they had to cross over each other, making an already tense situation even more so. But it all worked out because of their training and willingness to put their fears in God's hands.
Though Nik is a lifelong believer, he notes there are "positives and negatives to that. As a believer, you can become . . . so complacent that you settle, and it's like, 'I know God's there. I'll call Him when I need Him.' But the reality is, we're supposed to have a personal relationship with Him, an everyday relationship."
In conclusion, Nik hopes that reading Facing Fear will remind people of Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understandings."
"So many people want to lean on their own understandings,: said Nik, "and those understandings often bring fear up. My hopes are that as people read this, they will realize that there is a difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear, and that they will fulfill the calling that God has for their lives."
This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column written by Tony
Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers; it is one of a
series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current