In high school, if someone had asked me if I thought of myself as a "risk-taker" I would have said yes in a heartbeat. In my mind, risk-taking was a "Heck yeah, I wanna ride that scary rollercoaster!" or an "I would SO go bungee jumping!" kind of thing. But in reality, it's more. It's so much more.
What happens when...
...God nudges us to go up and start a conversation with that person in the school cafeteria or local coffee shop or church pew who looks like they could use a friend?
...We hear God whisper in the depths of our heart that it's time to end a relationship that just isn't right for us?
...God calls us away from a career we've known for so long to step onto a completely new path?
What happens then? The problem is, so often nothing happens at all.
When the time comes to take the real risks--the truly important ones-- that God asks of us, we chicken out. All of the sudden our courageous facade falls to pieces. Then we scramble to think of every excuse in the book to justify why we're ignoring what we know God is calling us to do.
"Someone else can do that. It doesn't have to be me."
"What will other people think?"
"I'm so comfortable with where I am right now...I wouldn't want to mess that up."
"There's no way I'm good enough (smart enough, talented enough, strong enough...) to do that."
"What if I fail?"
And the list goes on.
For so long, I listened to these excuses more often than I listened to God's voice. But in college, something changed. As the years passed, I came to know the Lord much more intimately. The more I got to know Him, the more I grew to love Him. The more I loved Him, the more I trusted and desired His Will for my life, from the huge decisions I'd have to make all the way down to the smallest details of each day. Soon, I grew sick of denying His plans for me, and I became tired of living within the limits of what I was comfortable with. Playing it safe was no longer an option. God told me I was made for more. I was made to take chances.
Once I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone God's faint whispers became louder, the desires He'd planted in my heart became stronger, and countless people and opportunities were divinely placed in my path. One of these opportunities had to do with something I'd been pushing away for years. Throughout college, I had been writing Christian music and felt like God wanted me to do something more with it, but I was constantly flooded with doubts and had always stubbornly stuck to my safe plan of going into the medical field. Then, early in my senior year, a local music producer came up to me in church (I'd never seen him before in my life!) and asked if I'd like to work with him to produce an album full of my original songs. Believing this was the next step the Lord wanted me to take, I said yes (even though I was BEYOND scared), recorded throughout my last year of college, and my debut album was released right after I graduated. As you can probably tell, that one risk changed the course of my entire life.
Since then, there have been countless moments in which God has gently whispered within my heart, "Trust me and take this next step." Whether it was accepting a job in youth ministry, signing with a record label, traveling around to different communities to share my story and music, or simply letting God take the lead in relationships where I previously hadn't before, each risk challenged me to push past my fears and embrace the feelings of discomfort and vulnerability that inevitably arise when stepping into the unknown.
And if I could turn back time, I would do it all over again. Here's why:
Every chance I've taken has stretched me... like a LOT. Each has been an opportunity to deepen and reaffirm my trust in God, my faith in His love and providence, and my surrender to His divine plan. Each has left me completely surprised at how brave, bold and capable I can be when I lean on the Lord's strength and not my own. Each has been an opportunity to conquer my fears and desire for worldly comfort, leaving me feeling more alive, more free and more truly myself than ever before. With every journey I've taken into unknown territory, He's never once failed me. He's taken care of me each and every time, revealing His perfect faithfulness. However, the most incredible part of it all is witnessing how the Lord has worked through my decisions to say "yes" to Him. He's encouraged, inspired, consoled, and drawn hearts closer to Him through me... now that's crazy. None of these amazing things would have happened if I'd played it safe and stayed within the confines of my comfort zone.
And you know what? God wants to grow, stretch, and work through YOU, too--in a million different ways-- if only you choose faith over fear, His strength over your weakness, and the greatness He calls you to over the mediocrity the world offers.
Mother Angelica once said, "I'm not afraid to fail... I'm scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, 'Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.'"
You were made to take chances. So take a deep breath, trust, and take the plunge.
Will it be difficult sometimes? Heck yes.
Will it be worth it? Always.