Dear class graduating from the long dark winter,
I have written, recorded videos, and spoken at more graduation ceremonies than I can count. Each time I try to encourage, edify and communicate my confidence in the impact the graduates will have on the future. But all of that was niceties for normal times. To the graduating class of the zombie apocalypse that was the previous year, I have one message: it’s time to be a bold and courageous risktaker. Our lives can be measured by what we are willing to risk. A risk, as I see it, is a willingness to lose something temporal to honor something eternal. It is time, no it is past time, for the real risktakers to take their place in the arena that is the rubble left behind from the pandemic.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that the pandemic has taken a lot from you. I am sympathetic to this plight. Even as I write this, five of my six children have tested positive for COVID-19 with three of them having significant symptoms. One of my daughters has a birthday coming up, and tearily expressed, “I don’t want to be sick on my birthday.” I know the pandemic has taken so much from us. At times it has robbed us of community, other times the opportunity to even celebrate, and all of this is having a significant impact on our emotional and mental health. I’m not unsympathetic to these increasing difficulties. But there are a number of people telling you how difficult it has been and how sorry they are for the times you have endured.
Since that song is being sung, let me throw at you a new tune: go out and be willing to risk everything for the only thing that changes anything. Risk humiliation, risk the possibility of failure, heck even be willing to risk being wrong. But most of all, be willing to risk everything for the sake of the one thing that can change the world.
How do those set apart for the gospel of God take risk????
A risktakers mindset is to fear God and not man
The wisest man ever to live wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” I know the word fear can be a bit off-putting but let me put it this way: if we don’t fear God, it means we have a diluted version of him. The greatest risks are taken by those with the greatest sense of reverence for the God of the universe. When we realize that our human minds can only begin to imagine the authority and power of One who’s words can both create the universe and declare defeat over all evil; then do we begin to understand the word fear. It is a sense of awe and astonishment that we finite creatures have for our Creator who is forever Lord of the heavens and earth. With this understanding of fear, it is then accurate to say, the more we fear God, the less fear we have of anything else. There is a right kind of fear and a wrong kind of fear. The right kind positions us to have knowledge and thus take risks that honor God.
A risktakers decisions will be determined by a redeemed direction
So much of the book of Proverbs seems to be summarized with “keep your foot on the path kid!” Stay on the road of righteous living, all other paths “run towards evil” (Prov. 1:16). Let me put it another way, you can never be a risktaker in someone else’s story. God has a story that he wants you to tell with your life, a road he wants you to travel with your own two feet. Don’t settle for a cheap, safe imitation of the adventure that could have been your life. Obedience to the faith positions us to take big risks for the faith. On the other hand, disobedience or traveling the wrong path, is a wasted risk because we are sacrificing the temporal for the temporal.
A risktaker rejects purposeless paradigms
Most people suffer from a vision that has been thrust upon them by society and culture. Most find themselves waking up after 20 years of loans, mortgages, debts, marriage(s), kids and all the rest, only to realize that they are trapped in a paradigm of living that they have only helped perpetuate. Having a college degree, owning a home, getting married and having kids can all be good things. But do not pursue these things because someone else has told you that they are important. Rather, pursue them because they are part of a vision that is bigger and better; one that is advancing the kingdom of God forward. And be willing to risk everything for this vision. Only those who are willing to risk, ultimately change things.
In case my musings have become too cumbersome or the word count too lengthy, let me close in all caps:
RISK…BE WILLING TO RISK IT ALL
DREAM…EVEN IF THAT MEANS SACRIFICING THE TEMPORAL FOR THE SAKE OF THE ETERNAL
RISK, I SAY, RISK OR DIE!