Radical Risk-Taking


If you lived through the sixties, congratulations, you’re a walking miracle. No generation sucked in more secondhand smoke. Doctors smoked. The gas station attendant smoked with one hand on the gas nozzle. It’s a wonder we weren’t blown to Kingdom Come. Somehow, we lived.

We drove without seatbelts. In fact, seatbelts were as useless as inflatable dartboards. Infants sat upfront with mom, facing forward so they could see out the windshield.  You got a new car; you stuffed the seatbelts beneath the seat. Besides, summers were hot. You could burn your buns on the buckle. Somehow, we lived.

Remember merry-go-rounds? They weren’t so merry. Eighth graders got them going about 5000 rpm. Bodies flying everywhere. That’s how I learned about aerodynamics. No one thought of a trampoline net. How could you bounce your friends off? Sure you broke bones, but bones were nothing a good doctor couldn’t set. While he smoked. Somehow, we lived.

We had no sunscreen. Just shade and mud. If you wanted a tan, you slopped on baby oil and used reflectors to bake yourself to a golden brown. I can’t believe we lived. But I think I know why. After eating, we waited half an hour to go into the water. Or we would have gotten cramps. And died.

I applaud new science that helps save lives and keeps toddlers away from smoke rings. Each day, I pray that God will watch over my grandbabies. But you know what else I pray? That they will take risks. This culture values safety, security, and comfort- but that’s not what Jesus called us to.

A friend smiles whenever I say, “Take care.” He says, “No, Callaway. Take risks.” He’s right. The Bible is full of risk-takers who loved God enough to risk their reputations and their lives. When a vicious plot was hatched to eradicate the Jews living in Babylon, Queen Esther said, “Enough.” She stepped out, risked her life, and freed her people. “If I perish, I perish,” she said.

Then there’s Shadrach, Meshack and Abednigo. They had a choice: bow to the king’s idol or get tossed into the furnace. They chose the fire, saying, “…the God we serve is able to save us…But even if He doesn’t…we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Jesus calls us to be radical, loving, risk-takers. So step out. Take risks. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

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