Swaying perilously above the surging waters of Niagara falls, Blondin carefully balanced himself on the thin highwire that stretched out in front of him. Deep down he knew his destiny was to conquer these mighty falls, & on 30 June 1859 he did just that.
Charles Blondin, Ealing’s most famous resident you’ve never heard of, lived 150 years ago and was a talented tightrope artist.
If you take the E2 bus from Ealing Broadway down through Northfields, you’ll will eventually turn right at the Plough Pub. On the opposite side of the road is Niagara House, next to Blondin Avenue and Niagara Avenue, connecting to Blondin Park.
Blondin, so called because of his striking bright blond hair, toured the world performing his death-defying feats, high above enthusiastic audiences. On the day that he first walked across Niagara Falls, 10,000 people showed up to watch. Wanting to capitalise on the gathered crowd, his manager Harry Concord announced that Blondin would do it again the following week, only this time with an extra stunt.
The next week the crowd was even bigger. He went across again but, this time, walked across with a potato sack over his head. The weeks and stunts continued with the crowd growing each week.
The next week he bicycled across.
Another time he did somersaults.
One week he even put a small stove inside a wheelbarrow, took it out to the middle & cooked himself an omelette!
But the stunts were running out.
Harry came up with an idea for the ultimate stunt. Blondin would carry a man across on his back…that meant that there would be two lives at stake, a real crowd puller. Everybody was excited and it was their biggest ever crowd. They say that 100,000 people turned out to watch this final stunt...but first, they had to find someone who was willing to do it.
Harry put an advert in the local paper and offered $1,000 to any man who was willing to be recruited to go across on Blondin’s back - a huge amount of money back then. Many people turned out for the trial, and they had to cut down the number to those that weren’t too big…but finally, they had a whole group.
On the day, Blondin took them to the brink and demonstrated that he could do it by walking out onto the rope carrying a heavy bag of potatoes. Then he came back and he went down the line and to every man he asked this question:
Do you believe without a doubt that I can carry you across?
And one by one they answered:
Absolutely, we complete believe you can do it. We have no doubts.
He then went down the line and asked...
Will you let me carry you across Niagara Falls on my back?
And one by one they answered:
Every one of them said no - no one would do it!
You see it’s one thing to intellectually believe in something…but it’s another thing altogether to actually step out and give over control.
Since there were now 100,000 spectators waiting for a show, Blondin turned to Harry, his manager, and said:
Harry it’s going to have to be YOU!
Harry was terrified, but he agreed.
Half way across that day, carrying Harry on his back, Blondin started to sway. Whenever they would sway, Harry would try to counter-balance by swaying back. Blondin yelled over the surging waters:
Harry, until we clear this place you must become part of me, mind body and soul…if I sway you must rest in me completely and sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we shall both go down to our death.
Blondin was saying to Harry: If you try to save yourself, you will end up losing yourself. You have to rest in me & trust me completely.
And that’s what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus asks us to trust in him. To give ultimate control over to him.
Blondin could have dropped Harry that day and fallen…but Jesus cannot drop you.
If you want to stretch the metaphor out further...Jesus has already plunged into the depths so you will never have to.
Let Jesus carry you.
Are you willing to SWAY with Jesus, to trust him completely, and to follow his leanings for your life?