Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Find Your Purpose: Taking Risks

I found this video of an incredible downhill bike race in Chile and it made me think. First, watch the video...

Intense isn't it?

There are few things that stick out about that ride. First, it is fast in places that people don't normally go fast. Second, there were several truly dangerous places throughout that course. Third, the rider never hesitates.

What is it that allowed the rider to navigate that course so successfully? I believe it comes down to three words: Fear, Skill, and Comfort. These are three words that will either paralyze or empower every Christian in his or her walk because I truly believe that the Christian life is just like that downhill race, for those who are willing to brave it.

First, lets talk about fear. Most people will look at this video and immediately think "No way would I even try that! That guy is crazy!" Crazy? Maybe, if you define life by playing it safe, keeping your pulse under 100 and never risking anything. But here is the catch.

God has not called us to play it safe. In fact, he has called us to be radicals in this world. Christians are to be the game changers. But too many never come close to experiencing the true blessing of being used by God because they are afraid. They are paralyzed by fear.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of what "might" happen. Fear of failure. Just the thought of doing something extreme sends many Christians into lockdown. Yet, some of the most common words in all of scripture are "Fear Not." Jesus told us that "perfect love casts out fear" and that we need only fear God and not man. Many will look at something like that bike ride and say "there is a difference in fear and wisdom." Maybe, but I think that all greatness once started out as a crazy idea that sent shivers down somebody's spine.

Someone will say "okay, I'm not afraid, but I don't know how to do something like that and if I tried, I would kill myself."

This is a true and wise statement that brings us to our second word: Skill.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at the age of 33. That's quite an accomplishment. But you know what? He didn't get there by accident. Before his 33rd birthday he had already accomplished more than most people will accomplish in an entire lifetime. It wasn't an accident that he was the man chosen to write one of the most important political documents our world has ever seen. Here is a list of what he accomplished before writing the Declaration of Independence at the age of 33.

At 5, began studying under his cousin's tutor. At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French. At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages. At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.  At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe. At 23, started his own law practice. At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America" and retired from his law practice. At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

Thomas Jefferson wasn't afraid of a challenge, but he also knew he needed to develop the skill necessary to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. In the video above, that wasn't that bike rider's first time to attempt something like that. He started small and built his skill set until he could accomplish something remarkable. 

Are you willing to risk learning how to do something amazing? Are you willing to learn the scripture well enough to live it? Are you willing to develop your skill in communicating, teaching, building, leading, organizing, or whatever it is you do? God is not going to put you on a bike and say good luck. He wants His people to stand out, but to stand out in a good way. 

There are two ways to stand out in this world: Excellence or Incompetence. Only one happens by accident. And if we are going to be intentional about developing the necessary skill to take real risks for God, then we are going to have to be willing to redefine our comfort zones. 

Comfort, our third word. Its a funny thing because it can be redefined far more easily than most people think. We often talk about getting outside our comfort zones in Christianity. What we are really talking about is getting outside of what is familiar and easy. Here is a secret for you to remember: nobody ever really gets outside his or her comfort zone. We just expand our comfort zone as our skill increases. We can and MUST become comfortable taking certain risks. 

The rider in the video was comfortable taking the risks associated with that course because he knew his skill set. What he was doing was trying to push his skill limit even further. The next time you feel uncomfortable taking a risk for God, you need to ask yourself why? Is it lack of skill or just lack of familiarity? Do you need further development or are you just getting a feel for the course? Either way, if you are uncomfortable stepping up for God, then you haven't yet truly given God his due in your life. 

You can't meet the Creator of the Universe, be filled with His Spirit, and not feel some boldness well up inside you. 

Here is one more little secret: the more skill you have and the broader your comfort zone, the more fun and enjoyment you will get out of what you are doing for God. That bike rider in the video enjoyed his ride. You hear him laugh part way through the video. His heart was racing, his skill set was challenged, but I promise you he ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF THAT RIDE. He even enjoyed when he was able to avoid the dog that almost ruined the whole thing. 

So, what insane downhill race is God calling you to train for? What fears need to be set aside? What training needs to happen and what comfort zones need to be redefined? It is only when we see life as one big downhill race that God has called us to dominate that we can rise Above Reality and Find our Purpose. We must take risks for God!

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