Life is fatal.
Just by being born, we know that one day we are going to die. And while none of us knows the exact number of our days, there are some things we can do, or not do, that might affect when we succumb to our mortality.
More specifically, some of us are risk takers, while others of us prefer to be more conservative with our lives.
One of our daughters works at a small design company. The owner is pretty much fearless. He travels to parts of the world most of us would be happy to avoid. And once there, it seems that he looks for trouble. While he has some pretty amazing stories, he’s not the travel companion most parents would wish for their 28-year-old daughter.
However, since this is a design firm, creativity is a requirement. To get his designers thinking outside the box, the owner likes to shake these mostly young and single artists out of their comfort zones. Recently, this email was distributed to a number of employees:
February 11th, 2010
We are going on a trip to an undisclosed location in South America.
This trip is a voluntary trip that is not a requirement of your job. If you would like to stay in Colorado, you are free to do so.
On this trip, you may be damaged, bruised, itchy, banged-up, busted, or hurt in one way or another. You may be robbed, kidnapped, killed, abducted or possibly arrested. Your name may even be sullied. You may have a whole host of problems as a result of this trip.
I agree that I am voluntarily going on this trip, and that anything that may happen to me as a result of this trip is entirely my own responsibility.
I do not hold [company] and/or [boss] responsible for anything that may happen to me as a result of this trip.
If I want to be safe, I should live in a padded room.
As Mom, I was relieved that my daughter did not accompany her co-workers on this particular outing. (Her new husband had something to do with this decision.) But it made me think. How much risk is acceptable? I don’t want to squander the life God has gifted me with—but neither do I aspire to life in a padded room.
In mulling this over, I realized that there are different kinds of risks, and what may seem dangerous to one person is no big deal to another.
For example, I love to go scuba diving, and feel very comfortable underwater. Yet, a good friend considered it a huge step for herself the first time she was brave enough to jump into the deep end of a swimming pool—at age 45!
On the other hand, I do not do well on narrow roads with plummeting drop-offs. Colorado’s Mosquito Pass summits at 13,000 feet, and you can look straight down the switchbacks into the backyards of Leadville 3,000 feet below. While one daughter cheerfully exclaimed over the panoramic view, our other daughter and I were curled up on the floor of the car, gibbering.
Those two examples are of physical risks, and are fairly obvious. But most risks we are faced with threaten our security or comfort more than our lives. Do we risk starting a new career? Do we make that move to another state… or another country? Even “little” things can seem daring. Do I, an introvert, sign up for that small group at church, even though I don’t know any of the other people in it? Are we willing to risk our reputation, our income, our pride?
God frequently asks us to risk ourselves for His sake. We may have sincerely told Him, many times, that we want to “die to ourselves” and live for Him. It all sounds great when the inspirational worship music merges with our heartfelt desire to please our Lord. But it all becomes real, not on Sunday morning, but Wednesday evening when the Holy Spirit nudges us to buy dinner for a homeless person, or Saturday afternoon when we know God wants us to invite our crotchety old neighbor to church.
Seventeen years ago God told Pete and I to sell our house in Silicon Valley, give up a reliable, steady income, and move to Colorado to begin full-time ministry. Was it a risk? Of course. The “what ifs” immediately moved in and tried to take control. What if no one supported us? What if the ministry failed? What if our kids (in 3rd and 5th grades at the time) couldn’t make new friends? What if we hated Colorado? (That seems ridiculous now, but I studied marine biology in college, and the thought of living more than a thousand miles from the coast was pretty daunting.)
I’m so grateful to God that he reassured us over and over that this was His will for us. By focusing on Him, we were able to dismiss all the other voices clamoring for attention, and move in the assurance that we were doing the right thing. Now, looking back, we can see God’s faithfulness in every area of concern.
While I may not eagerly sign up for a backpacking trip through the jungles of Columbia (which was what my daughter’s co-workers found themselves doing on that particular adventure), I hope I’m always ready and willing to sign up for whatever God has in store for me. It won’t always be fun, easy, or safe. I might get damaged, bruised, itchy, banged-up, busted, or hurt in one way or another. I may be robbed, kidnapped, killed, abducted or possibly arrested. My name may even be sullied. I may have a whole host of problems as a result of obeying God. But I don’t want to face Him in eternity and explain that I chose to be safe, and live in a padded room.
What risks has God asked you to take? Did you do what He asked? Why or why not?