“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” – Goethe
Thinking about the dangers of life can be overwhelming when we consider the fact that nothing is guaranteed and every step we take could be the wrong one. How do we live life without fear? How do we learn to take risks?
In my life, I’ve taken a few risks that some might call crazy. One of the craziest was opening an art gallery. My husband and I met a man named Steve, who had a vision for a missional group in the heart of a Cleveland artistic community. We moved to a second floor apartment where we connected with people in the community and eventually opened up a small art gallery featuring local art. As Agape: Gallery for Good, we were able to minister to people who would have never stepped foot in a church. No one in the crew had an art degree, but the divine grace of God brought us what we needed. We changed some lives forever.
Like most experiences, we learned and were deeply affected by the people we ministered to in Cleveland. The adventure was filled with some strange moments like having someone randomly knocking on our gallery door at midnight to buy the most expensive piece of art in the gallery. We also had some of the most difficult times which included having our car burglarized three times and having our car stolen, never to be recovered. While living through times like this is never easy, the reward is worth the risk. My ministry here at Open Door Church is shaped by the experiences I had at the gallery. Our time in Cleveland was never about having the answers, but asking people the right questions to challenge their ideas about faith.
The first step of risk taking is realizing we shouldn’t be driven by fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline,” Paul writes in 2 Timothy. Paul was someone who had some troubles in life. In 2 Corinthians we learn that five times he was whipped almost to death and three times he was beaten with rods. He was stoned and even survived three shipwrecks. And, in a “Castaway” moment, he spent a whole day and night at sea, floating. I don’t think that floating for 24 hours is like the lazy river at the water park.
So why did Paul endure those risks? Because he had a greater calling. He had a focus in life that wasn’t about his comfort.
Difficult times come to everyone, whether you take risks or not.
If we go back to the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 1:19-45 when Moses reminds Israel about how they refused to go in and conquer the land that God had given them, we see that fear overtook their belief in God. They thought they had weighed the pros and cons and it wasn’t safe. That turned out to be a very poor decision. Moses, a man who took a great risk confronting Pharaoh to release his people, allowed fear, doubt, and those around him to influence his decision. Because of that fear and doubt, he and the Israelites did not follow God’s path.
Life isn’t about pros and cons. Life is all about the risks you take and the ones you don’t. Paul may have had some horrible experiences, but his legacy of love for Jesus transcends time. His adventures are still being discussed around the world today. Will your story do the same?