Would I hold on to the tree branch or to my sliding shorts?
Well, before we arrive at the dilemma: only a week ago eight men and I stood with excited anticipation to enter our 23km jungle hike. The forecast of heat and rain proved correct, I pulled off my shirt to soak in every moment! Passing snakes, kangaroos, and iguanas, we pressed through cobwebs and swollen creeks of rushing water towards our final destination.
However, our steady advance came to a halt mid-stream a particularly deep creek. The rushing knee deep water caused a friend in front of me to lose balance, slip, and begin a slide into deeper, swifter, flowing currents. At this point I took a risk. Lunging forward, I took hold of him and pushed him into the hands of friends standing securely on higher ground. Unfortunately, as I grabbed him my waist went below the water line. Consequently, the rapidly flowing water pulled my shorts down to my thighs making it impossible to stand up! Clinging to my shorts, inclusive of all undergarments, I myself now had been dragged into the rapids! Fearing to lose total control I reached out to grasp a low lying tree branch overhanging the water. So there I was… stuck in rapids with one arm clinging to the branch, another to my shorts… and sadly, something would have to give. I cried out as I felt the remaining hope of pulling my shorts up to a socially appropriate position was tugged off the end of my shoes. Eight friends, now safely watching from shore, failed to see why I refused to leave the murky waters. Reluctantly pulling myself from the water to the sound of hysterical laughter and whistle blows, I really wondered if the risk I took to help my friend was really worthy of taking.
We all take risks, but what compels us to take them? Risks can be mundane, like riding in a car or going for a walk, or extreme. A soldier may jump on a grenade or a parent may enter a burning house. My conclusion is that we take risks mostly because we believe them to be worth taking, even though it may cost us our “shorts”.
When I read about the disciples of Jesus I am struck by the contrast of their disposition of fear to risk-taking courage. After Jesus is arrested and crucified the disciples were scared stiff, even going so far as to lock themselves into a room. Yet, only a short time later the disciples are taking all sorts of risks to publically and enthusiastically to announce Jesus as the risen Lord. Peter, who previously wouldn’t even admit to knowing Jesus, is suddenly risking his life taking physical and verbal beatings to tell others about Jesus! Acts records, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they [the disciples] never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. What compelled the disciples to move from fear to risk-taking courage? The witnessed resurrection of Jesus! The resurrection brought new life into the disciple’s vision and sent them forward with a message they believed was true, good and worth sharing— a risk worthy of taking.