Friday, August 11, 2017

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” ― William G.T. Shedd

                               Flying to Africa on one-way tickets with $8,000, two suitcases, and no real plans in mind may sound a little risky to some.  Well, it was.  It was very risky, but we had a secret weapon—we had faith.  Most folks don’t like to take risks.  In fact, most of our decisions about who we are and what we do in life are based on what and where we are comfortable and safe.  We have even invented a term for that place, we call it our “Comfort zone.”  We like comfort and it does make us feel safe.  Happily for all of us, the world changes all the time for the better because others have taken risks.  Without risk takers, no new worlds would have been discovered, no man would have walked on the moon.  There would be no Apple, no Microsoft, no mass produced automobiles, and the list is endless.  Virtually nothing new or wonderful ever comes from within comfort zones, and, if you are stagnant in your comfort zone, you do not grow, you can only decay and rot.  People who have the richest, best lives are the ones who step outside of their comfort zones.  If you insist on only maintaining the status quo, the best you can hope for is exactly what you have now but knowing that there will be times when even that will slip away or become unsteady and unsafe.  We get no guarantees of safety, good health, long life, or any other of the things that we think of as good.  What did Jesus offer the disciples?  Did He offer a medical plan, a retirement plan, benefits for the families, or did He simply ask for them to follow Him, wherever He would go, even to death?  You know the answer.  The disciples left everything behind to follow Christ.  We can become so jealous about guarding our comfort zones that we don’t want the church to change or do outreach or mission.  The old “light bulb” jokes include, “How many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?  Change?  Why my grandmother gave that light bulb to this church!”  Funny, but often too true.  We not only think within the box, but we even deny that there is anything outside of the box.  The dreamers, the changers, those who commit themselves to following Christ—those are the people who change the world and themselves in the process.  Mother Teresa came from a rich family and had to challenge her church to allow her to do the things that made her a saint.  She spent her whole life helping the poor and needy who were not even Christians.  Yet we only want to take care of our own, we want to stay safe, we don’t want our children to take any chances, and we certainly don’t model risk taking behavior.
                                         If you are not willing to risk, then you are not willing to follow Christ where He leads.  Christ does not call everyone to move to new countries, but He does call almost everyone to move out of their comfort zones to expand His Kingdom, to bring peace to the hearts of the strugglers, and to bring light into the darkness that pervades so many lives even when living in a wonderful country surrounded by blessings.  If you risk nothing, you earn nothing, you never know the euphoria that comes from receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Remember the parable of the talents?  The two who took risks were rewarded.  The one who stayed within his comfort zone was doomed to eternal torment.  Makes me think Christ likes risk takers.  Every one of you knows and can name people you admire and respect and want to emulate, and my guess is that every one of those are people who took risks.  Yes, your ship is safe in the harbor, but it was not made to stay in the harbor.  The Holy Spirit will provide the wind to fill your sails once you venture out to follow Him who calls you.
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