Some time ago, I realized my normal modes of exercise–mainly biking and walking–were primarily benefiting a certain set of muscles. My legs. Although I felt in good physical shape, there was a whole half of my body that never received a very strenuous workout. In order to right this imbalance, I needed to seek out exercises that targeted these weaker areas.
In some ways, the choices I make in my life are similar to the exercises I choose. It may seem like I’m in good shape, but when I look closely I’m very heavily focused on certain areas, with whole areas of my life ignored or uncultivated. Just like my physical body, these “muscles,” if not used, will continue to stay stagnant.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about risk. After years of making choices, we are (often unconsciously) choosing what muscles in our life we want to be strongest. Years of making a safe, easy, or comfortable choice will cause those muscles to become my reflex response. The more I choose comfort and security over risk, the more I’m closing my heart off to all sorts of scary but wonderful things God might bring me.
Choosing to embrace risk, doing things that are good but scare me, is a way to begin building strength in other areas, knowing that more scary things will inevitably come and these extra muscles sure might come in handy. As reluctant as I might sometimes be, I want to keep doing something that scares me every year of my life. I want to keep saying yes and building my muscles of trust, creativity, prayer, and dependence upon Christ.
What are some things that really scare you? I’m not necessarily talking about spiders, snakes, or steep ledges–although I totally get that. But what really terrifies you deep down?
Rejection? Failure? Isolation? Meaninglessness? Not-enough-ness?
There are some days we look at our life and think, why risk it?
The point is not that risk is inherently good, but that life is about these sort of small choices we make every year of our lives. This isn’t about gaining points by being a crazy risk-taker, but re-aligning our priorities so that we’re willing to take risks for the sake of big and beautiful things. Discerning when to step into this risk intentionally, and the process of embracing it, is what exercises our muscles of dependence on the Spirit. We learn to pray, live, and love Jesus differently when we’re out of our comfort zone.
Here’s who I want to be: someone who enters into risk with the full acknowledgement that I need both wisdom and courage, that I don’t have enough of either of these on my own. I want to step forward towards good/scary things because I know whether I fail or succeed, just the very act of stepping forward is a victory.
And once I’m there, I want to look back with a knowing smile on my face, recognizing that Jesus led me all the way, and turn my face towards the future and say,
“Let’s try again tomorrow.”