Jean Hanson and her husband, Steve, were celebrating their anniversary at a beautiful beach resort in St. Lucia. One morning they decided to walk the resort’s Wellness Trail—a one-mile path with stations for exercises like pull-ups, a balance beam, and even an elevated rope bridge. At each station they did the activity. Then they came to the rope bridge. Steve crossed it easily, but Jean hesitated.
“All I could see were big gaping holes on the sides, large enough to fit my entire leg through with one slip of the foot,” she wrote. Fear overcame her, and she backed off and walked away, frustrated and disappointed in herself.
The next day she and Steve took a trip on a twenty-four-foot sailboat. It was Jean’s first time sailing and she was thrilled and exhilarated, even when the boat was in choppy waters. Experienced sailors were in charge, but Jean knew this adventure was far more dangerous than the rope bridge she’d backed away from.
The following morning, Jean and Steve took the Wellness Trail again. “This time I didn’t say anything, just walked up the ladder and went for it. I didn’t stop to look at it and wonder how I was going to accomplish this feat. I just paused for a second on the platform, grabbed the rope and started putting one foot in front of the other. . . . Before I knew it, I was across feeling victorious!”
The experience helped Jean realize something about herself. “Looking back, I realized this wasn’t the first time I’d done this. There have been several times throughout my life that instead of wallowing in worry or fearing what might happen, I simply paused for a moment, made a decision and immediately took action. In those moments, I realized I’m much stronger than I give myself credit for.”
Most of us think of risk as a negative situation we should avoid. But risk is part of life, and it’s a big part of faith. Not every risk is worth taking, but if you’re too overwhelmed by fear to correctly assess a situation, you’ll miss many opportunities for growth, increased strength, deeper faith, and success.
Have you been playing it safe? Too safe? If forward is the direction you choose, be prepared to take some faith-based risks. Being a follower of Christ in today’s world is not safe. And it isn’t intended to be.
In his book Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin McManus wrote, “I want to reiterate the fact that the center of God’s will is not a safe place, but the most dangerous place in the world. God fears nothing and no one. God moves with intentionality and power. To live outside God’s will puts us in danger, but to live in His will makes us dangerous.”2
Think of the people in Scripture who took great risks. Moses wasn’t playing it safe when he returned to Egypt to confront Pharaoh (Ex. 5:1). Gideon wasn’t playing it safe when he dismissed most of his army (Judg. 7:7). David wasn’t playing it safe when he strode up to Goliath (1 Sam. 17:32). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t playing it safe when they refused to bow down to the image Nebuchadnezzar had erected in the Babylonian plains (Dan. 3:16–18). Esther wasn’t playing it safe when she put her life on the line to save her people, telling Mordecai, “If I perish, I perish” (Est. 4:16). Peter wasn’t playing it safe when he stepped out of the fishing boat to walk across the water to Jesus (Matt. 14:29). Paul wasn’t playing it safe when he preached to Governor Felix about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). The apostle John wasn’t playing it safe in his old age when he sent a book from Patmos filled with images of dragons, beasts, and coming days of wrath and judgment.
You can’t play it safe either. Not if you want to seize tomorrow and accomplish the dreams God places in your heart.
David Jeremiah, Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and Purpose in Your Tomorrow (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2020), xii–xvi.
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