Really Living Requires Really Risking
- Steve Arterburn Author and Chairman of New Life Clinics
- 2006 9 Mar
I’m convinced that life without risk isn’t much of a life. I’ve known young men who inherited a lot of money, and had all the comforts and securities you could possibly ask for. They had it all, but they lived with no fire in their bellies because there was nothing to burn. Their lives were risk free, and amidst the predictability and comfort that lifestyle bred, they missed becoming the men they could’ve been. We must give up the chains of predictability and the womb of comfort, and we must jump out there and risk if we’re to truly live.
Risk is a choice to heal because it stretches the emotional scar tissue that’s so beneficial after an initial wound, but that threatens to restrict and restrain if not rehabilitated. Just like a burn patient must painfully move scarred limbs to stretch damaged skin, so we must also stretch our souls. Risk is the means by which we do that stretching.
Risk Within Limits
It’s important to understand the difference between reasonable and unreasonable risk. Sometimes we equate all risk with unreasonable risk and it’s not true. No one is asking you to go out on a rotten limb, but rather to pick a strong one and get out on it. If you catastrophize every risk, you’ll never take the ones that are reasonable.
Only you can set the limits between reasonable and unreasonable risk. You might not have set limits and boundaries in the past, and if you have a hard time with risk, that may be one of the reasons why. But a life of reasonable risk could help you find and live the life you’ve been looking for.
Reasons To Risk
There may be many excuses you’ve used to play it safe. They’ve worked well for you in your goal to avoid risk, but they haven’t worked well for you in living a great life. To live a great life you must have risk. You cannot love unless you risk. You cannot even care about someone unless you risk, because there’s always a chance you’ll be rejected when you put yourself out there. You cannot connect without risk. Loving, caring, and connecting—the vital elements of life that give it meaning and purpose are great reasons to risk.
You can’t serve without risk either. But when you serve, you serve Christ. You do to Christ what you do for another. And He’s worth risking for, even if all you get from it is rejection. When you serve and aren’t loved for it, you share in the sufferings of Jesus. You fellowship with Christ through your rejection, since almost all His life was filled with rejection. That fellowship with Christ is a powerful healer that can’t be experienced unless you’re willing to take some risks. You simply can’t make your world small enough to be risk free.
The Healing Power Of Risk
Risk is a healer. It demands faith and trust. It eliminates a lifestyle of self-preservation, because self-preservation ignores the power of God. You can’t allow yourself to be healed if you’re trying to protect yourself from what cannot be prevented—trials and sorrows. You’re going to have them, and when you take a risk and move into them under God’s power rather than try to defend against them under your own power, you’re making the choice to heal.
The great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strength.” You can’t lead a healed life in anxiety. It’ll rob you of the strength you need today. It’ll steal the tomorrow you were meant to enjoy. The answer for those who need healing from a risk-adverse life is found in 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Do that right now. You can trust that God cares for you. It’s worth the risk to give God all your fears, and embark upon a future of healing and excited anticipation about what might be around the next turn.
The Big Lie
The lie that you must protect yourself from any more pain is a really big one. If you’ve tried to live your life that way, I have a question for you. How’s it going so far? Don’t be an irresponsible steward of what God has given you by taking unreasonable risks; but by all means, don’t allow fears and hardships to keep you from moving forward.
You’re going to be hurt and you can’t do anything to prevent it, but you can trust God each time a hurt comes along. Trust that while you don’t have the power to protect yourself, He has the power to turn every hurt into something that improves you and glorifies Him. You’ll never protect yourself from all the hurt, but you’ll protect yourself from missing the life God intended when you make the choice to risk.
Healing is a choice. It’s God’s choice, but many times we stand in the way of what God wants for us. There isn’t a choice more difficult than the choice to risk. My hat is off to all of you who’ll make that choice today. May the blessings of God be upon you for your amazing courage.
The above piece is an adaptation from Healing Is A Choice: Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life & Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them, by Steve Arterburn. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2005.
Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Clinics, the largest provider of Christian counseling and treatment in North America. As host of the daily New Life Live! radio program, he is heard nationally on over one hundred and eighty stations and at www.newlife.com. Steve is the creator of the Women of Faith® Conferences and is the author/coauthor of over thirty books, including Healing is a Choice, Lose it For Life, The God of Second Chances, Every Man’s Battle, and Avoiding Mr. Wrong.