When I think about the best parts of my life, I realize they came to me after I took risks.
Common sense might say avoid taking risks. You never know what the outcome will be, which occasionally strikes fear in me.
My perspective changes when I leave my house and get out of my head. Adventures and new opportunities present themselves. Most all involve some degree of risk.
Tom and I recently headed down a rocky trail to the base of Linville Gorge. It was a nice overcast day in the North Carolina mountains. What a blessed respite from the sweltering nineties of the lower Carolinas.
Tom chose the trail and assured me we’d see a great view of Linville Falls. I’d hiked the higher trail, but not this one. I was anxious to snap a good picture of the falls for my blog. The tree branches and roots became handholds as we hiked and slid along the rocks. Right before we came to the bottom of the gorge, the rain came. At first it was a light sprinkle, but when we glanced at the sky, we knew we were about to be pelted.
We walked out as far as possible onto rocks to catch a view of the falls, but could hardly see them. This was not what I expected— I was disappointed.
Returning, we ascended the rocky path as the rain poured. Since there was no place to take cover, we were soon drenched. It’s an odd feeling to be stuck with no way out of your situation.
We finally made it back to the car, covered our seats with a towel and tablecloth, and headed back to our place. My soaked body shivered and I scurried straight for the shower.
What a relief that hot water was!
Later I though about our hike and the small risk it entailed. It was another adventure– one we’ll remember with a smile. We’re rich in memories after thirty-five years. Predicaments we didn’t intend, such as the time we lost our car after a concert in pitch darkness (without a flashlight), we missed flights, rode our bikes through a sudden lightening storm, and many more. They were unplanned experiences that became good stories.
When I was younger, I thought a happy life was one full of joy and devoid of difficulties and pain. Even though I wouldn’t ask for hardships, I know God has used them to make life deeper and more meaningful. A rich life is one that courageously faces risks. We know the result may be immediate pleasure or prolonged difficulty. As we embrace hardships, we may experience healing, forgiveness, strength, and quiet joy.
Many years ago, I experienced shock and heartbreak when my first marriage ended abruptly. I was about to deliver my first baby girl at the time.
I was thrilled to have a girl. I’d always wanted a big brother and I was happy my daughter, Dawn, would experience that special relationship.
One or two years after she was born, I was forced to accept that her cognitive development wasn’t on track. She failed to achieve expected milestones, which began a lifetime of challenges for Dawn, and sadness for me. It was a devastating blow, but now she’s an important and much loved family member.
There were life-threatening accidents, injuries, surgeries, family adversity, and deaths.
I’ve come to grips with the truth that everything is risky. Marriage is a risk, having babies is a risk; the best parts of life are full of uncertainties. To experience joy we have to take risks and accept the possibility of pain. When I accept the possible risks, even in my fear, life is richer.
If I’d failed to hike a difficult trail in the Olympic National Forest, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the majestic views of the Puget Sound and I’d have missed my run-ins with mountain goats. Fear wanted to boss me the first time I hiked steep mountains with ropes and ladders. I’m glad I did it while I was afraid, or I would’ve missed the beauty and sense of accomplishment.
Taking risks is antithetical to my personality. I’m glad I’ve done some “scary” things even while terrified. What risky “opportunities” do you face today?
In our risk- taking and adversity, God’s strength is with us and enables us to get to the other side, where treasures await.
Here’s an applicable, encouraging quote from Spurgeon.
No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.