Dependability. Hospitality. Friendship. Courage. Openness. Curiosity. Nurture.

Aside from all of them being heart habits to cultivate, can you guess what each has in common with the other?

Yep, you guessed it. Risk.

Eleanor Roosevelt said this: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I know this to be a fact because I have it hanging on my bathroom wall where I can see it every day and everyone else can too. One person, upon reading it, kind of shuddered and said, “Why would anyone want to do that?” 

Why indeed?

Maybe it has something to do with the attachments that keep us from the life transformation we long for but scare us to death.

A friend was telling me of his nurse daughter who works with the most intense life and death cases every day. “Things can fall apart quickly and sometimes it gets rough in there.”  “So why don’t you quit and get a job without life and death stakes?”  “Because things seem to get very clear in the presence of birth and death.”

She would rather live in risk than safety because that’s where things that matter get very clear.

How often are we muddled chasing after things that don’t really matter? We like to be good, but often hesitate to be excellent. We like to dream, but often for things out of reach. We like to envision, but don’t want to fail. We like relationships but look for a way out when they get messy and hard. It seems we are a risk averse people who often prefer indulgences of safety, comfort, boundaries, clarity, warmth, and appetite to the risk of more. Because of this, we speak from our armchairs rather than the battlefield, our words discredited by unproved idealism.

Do you know what happens when you do something that scares you every day? You learn about yourself. Turns out there are some gaps in our selfies. Some places where the image is fuzzy and hard to discern. Risk has a way of shining a light on those places – and then we can choose – to find out more or turn the light off and sit back down.

I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he said, “You’re either for me or against me.”  “Be either hot or cold.”  “Follow me and walk away from everything…you can’t have both…not me and your own ideas about how you want your life arranged.” Like the rich young ruler who was prepared to do everything except that…so many of us walk away shaking our heads, thinking that he has just asked too much.

But for those who do the deed – who sell everything, risking all to follow him – stupendous things await. Like getting out of a boat in the storm to walk on water. Or feeding 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. Or being God’s agent of change in their world, their country, and their community.

It all begins by taking a risk.


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Led by the Spirit