Adventurous Faith: Choosing Risk over Safety
I've never felt a more visceral experience of faith than when I worked at summer camp. It was an adventure camp, which involved lots of risky things like rock climbing. And it was an odd job choice for me, seeing as how I am terrified of heights and very fond of my comfort zone.
But I felt a call to action and before I knew it, we were being trained on harnesses on top of a very high cliff. I had a heavy harness on, and my legs were shaking uncontrollably. The instructor could tell that I was internally falling apart so instead of offering encouragement or platitudes, he told me to go out to the very edge of the cliff and look down.
Everything felt profoundly quiet at that moment, and as I finally reached the edge, I looked out, and to my surprise, I felt a complete sense of surety.
Not because I stopped being afraid. Not because we stopped being too far off the ground for comfort, but because we were surrounded by things God had taken care of. My harness reassured me I was tethered, and although it's true that I still could have fallen a short distance and maybe sustained a few bruises, my entire person and mortality were being perfectly cared for by God, by the harness, and by the community around me.
Notice the absence of the word “safe.”
At camp training we were told to never use the word “safe” with guests because legally the term could be used against us. “Safe” to you and me is an assurance of care. To a court of law, it means a 100% guarantee of nothing bad happening—which of course is out of our control. So instead, we talked about all the safety procedures in place, the testing of the equipment, the professionals who designed it, etc. But we never used the words “you’re safe.”
if you’re a worry wart like me, your mind is already reeling with worst-case scenarios and you're wondering how this place could possibly still be in operation. It also goes against the grain of what a lot of us are taught about life… and the assurances we often hear about being a believer. But I think to say believing in God will make us “safe” would be to make the mistake the camp was trying to avoid.
Safe from what, exactly? What is our well-being tethered to?
if it means nothing troubling will ever happen to you while you’re here on earth, then the only thing you’re really guaranteeing is disillusionment.
If we are defining safety by a 100% guarantee of never being uncomfortable, then what are we implying about God when He assures us of the opposite? John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.”
What if I told you faith and choice and love hinge on not being safe?
And what If I told you real intimacy with God and with others lies on the other side of taking risks?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an altar call to be reckless. But if we look through the Bible, God has asked people to do risky, insane, counter-cultural things. If you want to talk about guarantees, we are guaranteed trouble or at least a range of experience. Jesus made that clear in John 10:10 when he said, “The thief comes to kill steal and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it in full.”
When you are pursuing your talents and callings for the Lord, they may not make sense to the world. You may be mocked, misunderstood, or even apprehended. Stepping into that calling Is going to be risky and challenging. But you don’t have to walk through that alone—in fact, you’re not meant to. Ask God for help and lean into the community around you.
Community is there not only for support but also to challenge you to do the right thing, and to be a healthy opposition to your blind spots. We need someone to come alongside us and encourage us to live into what God called out of us.
Or to help us push a little further when we're fearful of the unknown.
Or to just tell us honestly, “I’m not as concerned with your comfort as I am with your growth. Now take my hand, and let’s take the next step in faith.”
When we look at our God-given passion and talent and step a little bit outside of that in faith, we experience God on a deeper level. We take the risks we are meant to, and you know what that ends up looking like? Not a 100% guarantee of total safety and comfort. But a life of passion, joy, intimacy with God, complete freedom, security in the Lord and not your fellow man. In other words, a life that is full, that’s better than anything that comfort or safety could guarantee us.
So, I will leave you with this challenge. Take your tether, look out over the edge, and trust that a good God who loves you has a beautiful, risky adventure waiting for you on the other side of whatever is making your legs shake.
Trust the tether and take the risk.