Summary: In order to get all we can out of our relationship with God we must risk all we are.

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Dare to Pursue

“Ready to Risk?”

September 10, 2006

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.

Some people hear those stories and they think, “Why would you take that risk?” Others hear that and their blood starts pumping and they think, “Where can I sign up?” Some people live for the thrill of risk taking. I can climb rocks and mountains, but getting on an airplane makes my palms sweat. I have no fear of mice or rats, but snakes make my skin crawl. Needless to say I will not be going to see the movie “Snakes on a Plane.”

Sometimes we get incredible thrills when we risk. Other times the risk becomes disastrous, but it makes for some great video. Check out this clip of some risks gone wrong.

*** Show video of stunts gone wrong.

What is your risk factor? How much are you willing to risk in areas of your life? For some, physical risks are easy and they seem to have no fear of the failure. For others, all risk is scary and it keeps them sidelined in every adventure.

One thing that is true is that our lives are risks waiting to happen. One area that many people are afraid to really risk is in the area of their spiritual and emotional lives. We tend to get into the mindset that if I don’t rock the boat spiritually, then nothing can go wrong and I will not have to face the dangers of failure. Is that where you are in your spiritual journey?

Over the next few weeks we are going to be talking about being willing to take risks with God. We are going to talk about how we can pursue God in the everyday walk of life and how we can live the kind of life that God desires for us. We want to look together at how we can make our spiritual lives deeper, more vibrant and more meaningful in our walk with God. But, it is going to involve risks.

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