restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


 I Have to Walk

 David Alan Black  

I have been reading the amazing story of Philippe Petit. I still can’t believe it.

Petit walked on a rope shot with a crossbow between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Previously he had done the same thing between the twin spires of Notre Dame in Paris.

But here’s the remarkable thing about the story. When asked why he risked his life to walk on a slender wire between the two tallest towers in New York City, everyone thought he did it for the fame, for the publicity, for the money. But he said, “If I see three oranges, I have to juggle. And if I see two towers, I have to walk.”

New Yorkers thought he was crazy, and in fact the police took Petit to a city hospital for a psychiatric examination. But he turned out to be as sane as you or me.

Why does a man do what he does? Why did that student come to me yesterday asking for advice about doctoral programs, stating “I have to teach!” There is an inner urge, an inner calling that answers all those questions that are beyond answering.

Does that say anything to you? Does that challenge your lack of involvement in God’s work? Does that speak to your apathy, your laziness, while the world is in such a terrible condition, and the church is crying out for help?

I have been thinking, on and off, about this all day. Why do I teach? Why do I go to Africa or Asia or Europe? Why do I pray? Being Reformed in my theology, I firmly hold of course to the sovereignty of God. One is made and shaped by his Creator to do and to be. Thus I have to teach. I have to evangelize. I have to pray. I have no explanation for this beyond what a child would say when asked why he plays ball. “When I see a ball, I have to play with it.”

That student of mine – aching to begin his doctoral studies, impatient to begin his teaching career – should I ask him, “Why?” There is no answer to that question. “If I see two towers, I have to walk.”

April 9, 2008

David Alan Black is the editor of

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