Last night I babysat a couple kids for a professor of mine. After everyone was in bed, I thought I would be a cultured adult and read a book instead of just watching TV. Much to my dismay, I left my copy of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at home. Without my Huckleberry, I felt I was at a loss. I raided my professor’s bookshelf for what felt like forever before I finally stumbled across “When God Says Jump” by J.R. Briggs. The title certainly seemed interesting so I figured why not give it a try.
The first few pages were nothing but quotes about risks. I was instantly hooked. An excerpt from a quote that stood out to me the most says this – “To love is to risk not being loved in return, to hope is to risk despair, to try is to risk failure, but risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to do nothing.” Those words hit me pretty hard. I knew I had to continue reading this book.
I only made it through the introduction and a little bit of chapter one before my professor and his wife got home. What I have read so far, however, has made me think. In my personal opinion, it is the sign of a good book when it makes you think.
The introduction begins with the author telling the story of how he was waiting to have lunch with a friend one day when he struck up a conversation with another man in the restaurant. In this conversation, the man told the author he had been an accountant for over 30 years. Naturally, the author believed this man loved his job. Actually, this man hated his job. He told the author he only kept his job because it was simply the safe thing to do.
I’m not sure I know many people who would say they DON’T like feeling safe. It is a natural human instinct. We want to feel secure. We say we love change and that we can embrace it, yet we want change to come on our terms. While some people could say they love to take risks, I feel what most people fear is a lack of control. We know the paths of our lives that are safe because we have been down those roads many times before. But what are we to do when the moment comes and after going left so many times, it is time to turn right?
Turning right takes courage. Turning right is a risk because it is something we have never done before. Turning right requires us to relinquish control and give it to God, without doing something reckless in the process (that’s stupidity, not risk-taking). When God calls us to turn right instead of left, that should be the moment we realize and remember we are made for so much more.
Over the past year, I have learned that I am supposed to live anything but a risk-free life. Because I am called to live like Christ, I am called to live a life of adventure. Not in the glamorous Hollywood style either, but in the all-consuming, self-sacrificing realization of why Christ came to Earth in the first place.
Jesus was the last person to choose “the safe route” during life decisions, so why do we try to play it safe? In his book Dangerous Wonder, author Mike Yaconelli says “Faith has been reduced to a comfortable set of beliefs about God instead of an uncomfortable encounter with God.” The bottom line is taking the risk requires us to follow God even if the obedience is difficult or uncomfortable. Majority of people are unwilling to do this. The risk may not make sense to us, but that is not what is important. The only thing of importance is to follow God because the risk makes sense to him.
Taking the risk will require courage and trust. Taking the risk begins now. This is certainly a challenge Briggs has placed before his audience, I will not deny it. However, I believe Briggs is on to something big. We may not all be the Katie Davis’ of the world who go to Uganda and adopt 14 little girls. We may not all be the Marc Lee’s of the world who defend this nation to the point of being killed in action. But to deny that we are not all called to take risks is a lie. For me, it took falling on my knees before the throne of God to realize the risk He was telling me to take was simply to walk away, and I couldn’t do it. I was too afraid to let go of control. I was too afraid to take the risk. I never want to be that way again.
As I continue to read through this book, I pray I am inspired to take the next risk in my life. I will continue to share my thoughts on what this book is teaching me and how I think everyone could take these words to heart. I pray we are all inspired to take a risk.