Risk: exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.
Adventure: a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
On the edge of the Grand Canyon
On top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
10 Years ago on May 15 2003 I walked out the doors of a job I had for 10 years. I had actually been working since I was a freshman in high school, so I had actually quit my job after 23 years of working here and there. I quit my job to pursue painting full-time, something we felt God was offering us.
What God was offering looked like this to me: I’m on the edge of the Grand Canyon holding the hand of my wife and she’s holding the hands of all three of our kids and if I wanted to pursue painting full-time it would be like stepping off the edge and praying that God would catch us somewhere on the way down. He did and continues to everyday.
Janice and I live an amazingly adventurous and risky life. This may not come as a surprise to many of you, you’ve probably seen the evidence in the form of pictures and stories on Facebook. Hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite and sitting on the lip with our legs dangling, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 15,000 feet and riding our bikes for miles to the tops of mountains only to hurl ourselves down the mountain road reaching speeds of 50mph. And we have plans for more adventures in the future. I’ve always enjoyed adventures like these, Janice has learned and continues to learn to like them. She’s an inspiration to me.
But these adventures are like short stories. The risks are short lived. They may last a day or, in the case of skydiving, only a few minutes (hopefully not a few seconds). The story of quitting my job is a much longer story. The risk lasts longer than the time it took me to walk out the doors of my job, it’s daily.
We were at an Easter celebration last week when a friend asked how business was. I said it was good but always a challenge. I told him that everyday seemed like another day of risk and therefore another day of faith was required. Over the past few years since the economy took it’s dreaded turn the risk seems to come at me almost on a daily basis and I find myself not wanting it. I try pushing it away, praying that God would take away the difficulties and make life easier, less risky, less adventurous. I was explaining this to a very good friend just a couple of days ago and he had this to say. I’m paraphrasing. “We often forget the path we’ve chosen can be a treacherous path filled with obstacles and dangers. God doesn’t promise to clear the path of such things but He does promise to walk with us” I really needed to hear that. Perhaps it’s God’s mercy that he doesn’t even show us what’s around each corner, if we knew, would we continue? Would you?.
I’m reading, actually rereading, a book by Donald Miller titled “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” It’s a wonderful book about living your life as part of a larger story and becoming a better character in that story. Donald touches on the subject of risk and adventure. In the process of creating a better story for his own life he decides to start a foundation to help kids that are growing up without a father, something he had experienced in his own life. The organization is called The Mentoring Project. He received $25,000 from a friend to get it started and this is what he said. “I started an epic story of my own. And life no longer felt meaningless. It felt stressful and terrifying, but it definitely didn’t feel meaningless.”
“Stressful and Terrifying” I think I’ve forgotten that the path I’ve chosen can feel stressful and terrifying and that it’s OK. I’ve chosen not to live a safe and secure life, I’ve chosen to live an adventure. I must learn to embrace all that I’ve chosen and not just the easy stuff, not just the fun stuff, not just the mountain top experiences. My prayer must be that God would walk with me through difficulties not just remove them to make my life easier. Living an adventurous life means we accept the risks along with the mountain top moments that can come with them, there’s no way around that. I believe life was meant to be lived on the precipice’s of the mountains that surround us and the valleys are to be enjoyed as places of rest.
As difficult and risky as my life so often seems, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. God has truly blessed us over the past 10 years since stepping off the edge of the Grand Canyon. We continue to spend most days walking along the edge of the Grand Canyon and still desiring to have a railing to hang onto every once in a while. We’re grateful when the railing appears and we’re grateful for a loving God who cares for us deeply when there isn’t.
I started an epic story of my own. And life no longer felt meaningless. It felt stressful and terrifying, but it definitely didn’t feel meaningless.” Perhaps we can say this of our life as well, perhaps you can too.