Introduction: Risks can be scary. Risks can be life-changing and exhilarating, or they can be disasters. Some risks are easy to take and others come with considerable calculation of the costs. One constant thing about life is that we are going to encounter risks.
Risks scare me. Some risks that I take at times scare others and are of no great consequence to me. Things that other people take for granted are for me scary and challenging.
For instance I love to rock climb. I haven’t done it in a long time because Florida is not exactly a rock formation Mecca. But there was a time in my life where climbing was a thrill I would take at every opportunity. I have been on some pretty exciting climbs.
I remember one time being on a trip with a group of student’s rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. We had several churches on the trip and had spent the day getting students on the rocks and helping them succeed in conquering their fears. At the end of the day, another youth pastor and I discovered that right behind our campsite was an incredible formation that was begging to be climbed.
My friend took the lead and put in anchors as he climbed to secure the rope. We were so excited. It was a tough climb and not really one we wanted our students on. As we went higher and higher we noticed that a group of students and other adult leaders had gathered below us to watch. I think most were hoping to see us make a big mistake that would result in some great laughs at our expense. The one who was not in that category was my pregnant wife.
As we went up I would look back to find her covering her eyes and shaking her head. To her this was a huge risk, but to me it was just plain fun. I was not thinking of falling or hurting myself because I trusted my friend Pete to tie in the anchors and I knew what I was doing. Alana was not as excited.
Getting to the top was a challenge, but when we made it we thought the hard part was over. Typically what we did as we climbed was to repel back down the rope and then the last person on top would pull the rope through and walk down the back side of the rock. We had done this dozens of times. Since Pete and I were the only ones on tip, we decided to drop the rope to our campsite and he and I would walk down together. What we didn’t know was that the back side of the rock was not one you could simply walk down. We had to maneuver our way between rocks and slide along ledges that were only three or four inches wide. At one point, we had to leap from one rock to another. The rocks were about twelve feet apart and if we didn’t stick the landing we were going to fall into about a thirty foot crevasse between the rocks. Thankfully all of this took place out of sight of my panic stricken wife.