Ditching the “Safe” Life

Predictability. Control. Safety. Comfort.

The book in your hands is about exploring God’s feelings on how those subjects fit, or better yet, don’t fit in your quest toward becoming God’s man. In fact, when you look at this climber graphic behind text, that’s a signal to pause and consider ways to apply the principles of risk in your own life.

As with all God’s men, the first disciples had their own “Oh, mama” moments with Christ. Each was on a journey to fulfill God’s purposes for his life. Aware of this, Jesus knew he had to address the whole issue of risky commitment if the disciples were to succeed in their mission after He’d conquered the Cross. He was direct and uncomfortably honest:

Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again. As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and told him he shouldn’t say things like that.

Jesus turned and looked at his disciples and then said to Peter very sternly, “Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” he told them, “you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.” (Mark 8:31–35, NLT)

Satan had already tried to sabotage Jesus at the outset of His ministry through promises of pleasure and power and protection.

Jesus heard him again trying to lie to Peter. Real spiritual warfare surrounds every good man He wants to use. So He got real. He told Peter and His disciples exactly what was going on. He wanted them and us to know the very real risks we take to follow Him. It means giving up the life you may have expected you’d live to live the one God calls you to live.

What’s more, Jesus makes it clear to His men that all the energy they might spend trying to eliminate risk would actually work against His purposes in their lives. Jesus knew that very shortly the chips would be down for His guys, and the only true option would be to bet it all. It could not have been a more desperate situation, so He made it plain: Take risks for Me and you will find life. Hedge your bet and you will lose it all.

Tension. Unpredictability. Letting go. Adrenaline. Oh yeah, baby. Jumping off of things is in our DNA. It took me about two seconds to come up with my short list of things I used to love jumping off. The roof into a cold pool. Trampolines. The swings. A pogo stick to Billy Joel music, eight hundred and fifty seven times in my parents’ garage. Over Calabasas Creek with my yellow Schwinn. Into mischief for the simple thrill of it. How about you?

Our fathers or mothers looked at us and said, “What were you thinking?” We said, “I don’t know.” And that was the truth: there was no explanation! We were boys. We were stretching the limits of our courage, testing the limits of our abilities, risking injury for the rush of what was on the other side of the experience. We lived for that freedom and risked life and limb naturally. What a great life purpose!

It’s not a mystery that Jesus used a little boy to answer the spiritual significance question:  “Who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Imagine being a first-century man looking on, wondering the same thing: “What can I do here that will make me significant up there with God?” Jesus looked at His guys and knew exactly what message to send.