This one always makes me laugh because my husband and I are the antithesis of risk takers. I have this theory that we're all created to take risks. If you disagree, spend some time with a youngster under the age of two. They are curious about everything and are seemingly fearless in their attempts to embark on new adventures. Of course, as their parents, it's our job to make sure they stay safe... but for an overwhelming majority of us (myself included) I think we overstep the role of "safety procurator." Instead of teaching them to use caution, we just advise them to steer clear, if you will. "Better safe than sorry!" is the ol' saying, right? Even as we become adults, we're still inundated with messages about "playing it safe": life insurance, car insurance, disability insurance. (Of course, there are monetary benefits from these examples... to large corporations. But, that's a whole other can of worms!) The point I'm trying to make here is that we are constantly reminded of all the bad things that "could" happen. As a result, the risks begin to outweigh the potential benefits in our minds... and this applies to a multitude of things in our lives.
So, here's the characteristic that Chan gives us to ponder:
"People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God's kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress." p. 133
Now, I think it's important to notice that Chan doesn't say we should ignore our personal safety and comfort... just that we shouldn't be consumed by it! The example he gives in the book was one that gave me pause. He talked about how we always pray for safety when we travel... that we get to and from our destination in one piece, essentially. BUT... what if that isn't God's plan? What if an "interruption" in our travel plans is part of God's plan... a plan that will bring Him glory... a plan that includes bringing countless others to Christ. You hear about it all the time! For example, just in the last few weeks, our church has had two funerals. As a result, we've had countless people show interest (not just in our church... but in Christ!)
But, this is the thought I want to leave you with today: Not every risk has to be about "life and death." What about taking a risk with your financial security? What about changing careers? What about changing your lifestyle? Remember, Chan talked not only about personal safety... but personal comfort! Are you willing to risk your comfort in an effort to become obsessed with Christ? I've written about it many times in this blog. There are countless things in our lives that we hold on to (that we find comfort in) that are inhibiting our growth as Christians. We forget that what God promises us will far exceed any transient comforts we experience on this Earth. It's when we trust Him with these things that we begin to experience the transforming power of His holy hand in our lives.
My family experienced this yesterday morning. Usually, our Christmas mornings are pretty much the same: early morning deluge of endless presents, a constant supply of food coming out of the kitchen, Christmas parade on tv and then laying around the house all day enjoying the spoils of "Santa." Well, this year we stepped out of our comfort zone. This year, we still woke up early and opened presents; however, there were significantly less... about 90% less! But, to our surprise, the kids didn't complain once! (It should be noted that we warned them ahead of time!) After opening presents, we headed out to deliver presents to the homeless. We wrapped scarves and mittens in ribbon and tucked in gift certificates to Dunkin Donuts. Then we went to the local soup kitchen to deliver the bundles. This experience, I dare say, has forever changed me and my husband. As we drove off yesterday, I wept. I could only think of the prayer: Break my heart with what breaks yours, Lord! My heart was definitely broken, but equally, I think my husband and I realized that we live in our "comfort zone" way too much, and that God is calling us to live outside that comfort zone. What does that look like? I don't know. But we're definitely talking about it and praying through it with other people at our church. We are so incredibly blessed to be surrounded with church leadership and members that humbly want to serve God and other people, in His name. But as I sit here and write this, I can't help but wonder what it would look like if we actually took risks in an effort to serve the homeless in our area. I'm not talking about going out once a year (or month, even) and serving food. I'm talking about getting out of our comfort zones and helping them, befriending them! And for the record, let me just say that before yesterday, the thought of this seemed a little unrealistic. But after meeting some of those men and talking to them, it became immediately apparent that there isn't much that separates "us" from "them."
How many lives could God change through us? How many people could we help? The opportunities are endless... we just have to be willing to place the benefits over the risks.
Think about ways you can get out of your comfort zone. If nothing comes to mind, spend some time asking God to help you come up with some ideas. I'm sure He has plenty. But, remember, this is only the first part! Ideas mean nothing until they are put into action!