Taking Risks

During the deadly coronavirus pandemic have you noticed how people, including TV presenters, close with phrases such as “keep safe” or “take care”, or some other encouragement to avoid taking risks? Fair enough, I suppose, when we are at war with an unseen enemy which takes no prisoners and will attack anyone without scruple, especially the vulnerable, should they let down their guard.

There are, however, unwelcome by-products of this safety-first strategy ( which is close to becoming a life-style): It becomes a way of thinking; It isolates us from each other – we call it Lockdown; It engenders suspicion and defensiveness; It often creates anxiety and fear. Now fear is part of our psychological DNA, helping us to avoid situations that could cause us pain, injury, loss or even death. Fear exists to keep us safe. But if you don’t face up to your personal fears they can end up owning you. Facing up to the reality of what frightens you is essential in order to reclaim the power it has over you. In order to overcome a fear, we have to admit that we have it in the first place. And there is no known formula that will liberate us from fear.

Our imagination, which can be so creatively positive is also capable of turning shadows into monsters. We can develop the tendency to imagine the worst case scenario in almost any situation, fuelling our apprehensions and fears. This process can prevent us from doing anything outside of our comfort zone. Facing up to our fears, as opposed to avoiding them, ignoring them or running away from them is essential if we are to move forward and grow into that braver, better version of ourself. Controlling your fears opens up the way to the improved you, much less prone to entrapment.

I remember as a 14 year-old, singing solo on the platform in school assembly on two occasions. It was quite scary beforehand, but once I’d done it I felt rather proud of myself. It was a kind of achievement. Just to put it in context, I had a decent voice, but nothing outstanding. I can’t remember why I wanted to do it: Maybe I was a bit of a performer? But I still saw it as an achievement. I had to take the risk of making a mess of it or being laughed at, especially by the boys of my own age. But I’d seen someone else do a solo several years before and I thought, I could do that.

Giving fear a name is helpful: It’s an emotion, but its not a reality; it’s not you! Actually playing safe can be a high risk approach. The fear of failure, or being laughed at is quite real. But playing safe can lead to regrets which cannot be remedied later in life. I recall the challenge I faced, because of what a member of college staff said during enrolment to the next level of a part-time engineering course I planned to take. He said, “You could go full-time with the results you obtained last year”. It prompted me to investigate the prospect of “full-time” education, at the age of 25.

I had left school at 15 and all of my subsequent learning had been on a part-time basis. I discovered I could do a Higher National Diploma or even a Degree Course. The prospect scared me, so I decided to do a Higher National Certificate (2-years part-time) first. Then I went for the Degree , at the age of 27. This required me to resign a secure job with good prospects to go to University. I just felt I had to go as far as I could academically. I graduated at the age of 30 with a BSc Hons (2.2). I was never particularly good at school and, on leaving, I served a craft apprenticeship for 5 years (from aged 16-21 in those days). When I graduated with a Degree I thought, Wow! It was way beyond what I ever thought was possible.

The Australian author Margie Warrell, who writes for Success Magazine, quotes this “powerful lesson of life: Growth and comfort can’t ride the same horse”. I second that. I was always scared of exams; the fear of failure I suppose. But, with God’s help, I road it and it proved worth the ride.

Being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, then you aren't. Margaret Thatcher
The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but God will make us good because he loves us. C S Lewis
Fear is misplaced faith. Kris Vallotton
God has already seen every mistake, every failure and every weakness, and the good news is he's already forgiven you. He is not holding it against you. Joel Osteen
God is not nearly so interested in changing your circumstances as he is in changing you. Joyce Meyer
Pray, and let God worry Martin Luther
Those who never change their mind never change anything. Winston Churchill
What you do (for a living) is not who you are.  Celia Apeagyei-Collins 
 People who write you off when you fail know nothing about history and even less about life. No person ever fully succeeds until they fully fail. Lance Wallnau 
There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael.  C S Lewis
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Jim Elliot
You never know how much you really believe anything until it's truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death to you. C S Lewis
If you know you are loved, faith is easy. It's easy to trust someone you know loves you. David Forster
Every moment that you spend upset, despaired, anguished, angry, afraid or hurt, because of the behaviour of someone else in your life, is a moment in which you have given up control of your life. Unknown
Remember, you do not have to live today by how you feel, nor by what you think about yourself, nor by what someone else thinks about you. The person who created you thinks you are wonderful, and he waits with open arms for you to agree with him. David Forster
Shift gears from doing something in God's presence to simply being in God's presence. Lance Wallnau
Your future doesn't depend on what is in front of you, it depends on who is in you. Lance Wallnau
Did you know that you are utterly and completely loved by God, without doing a single thing, good or bad. David Forster
no one knows how bad they are until they have tried very hard to be good.. C S Lewis
If we are living daily by faith, we will be constantly over our head; Beyond our ability to do this our that. We should all be in that place in some area of our life. If we are not, we will be like an old wineskin; too rigid and inflexible to receive the Lord's new wine. Rick Joyner
For a believer intimacy with God is not an option, it's a necessity. Guidance and direction depend on this intimacy and sensitivity to Holy Spirit. There is no substitute for the latter. Graham Cooke
Jesus reveals the Father to us. He gives us peace and rest. He is not a hard taskmaster. David Forster
The God who creates everything, pursues you. Don't let anyone tell you you're are worth less than that. Louie Giglio
In the kingdom, physical obedience brings spiritual release. Bill Johnson
Don't be surprised if you pray for nearness to God and he sends a trial. Nearness always requires dependence. Desiringgod.org
Our corporate worship doesn't meet a need in God, it meets a need in us. Sam Storms
How you feel is not who you are. Feelings are great servants and terrible masters. Kris Vallotton
There is a lot that is good in your life. Don't take it for granted. Don't get so focused on the struggle that you mis the gift of today. Joel Osteen
The enemy commits identity theft when you believe you must earn what God freely gives. Alison Brown
If you agree with your creator and receive what he freely gives, you will have serenity in your identity and confidence in your countenance. David Forster
If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. David Forster
A satisfying and exciting life organises around an identity focused on Jesus, not the church..  Graham Cooke
Satan cannot impose his will on anyone, he has to have our agreement.  Graham Cooke
Every day adjust yourself to where God is taking you, that is, toward the prophetic vision he has given you. Lance Wallnau
Real faith is not faith in an outcome (of a particular situation or circumstance), it's faith in a person. David Forster
Be in no doubt that God will redeem the losses and mistakes of your past life. David Forster
God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because there is simply no such thing. C S Lewis
Wealth, women and status; these are the major temptations that can draw a man away from God. Each is morally neutral; yet given the appropriate significance, each can control us. David Forster
The devil's finest trick is to persuade you that he doesn't exist. Anon
Fear is the enemy of love. The two cannot exist together. We have to choose daily: Fear or Love. David Forster
You are not saved because of the quality of your faith. You are saved because of the object of your faith; The Redeemer! Tim Keller
Revival goes from the bottom up; Reformation goes from the top down. Therefore reformation is institutional and revival is personal. Lance Wallnau
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein
Inner peace is key to experiencing God's presence. Rest is a weapon against the enemy Graham Cooke
Fairy tales don't tell children that dragons exist. Children know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed. G K Chesterton
When you are at peace with God, you will be at peace with yourself and with other people. David Forster
You can believe in Christianity in the same way you believe that the sun has risen; Firstly, because you see it and secondly because by it you see everything else. C S Lewis
A little while ago I became old enough to start believing in fairy tales again. This means there are far better things ahead of me then what I have left behind. C S Lewis
Your unfinished destiny is your most potent argument with death. Graham Cooke
I am not focused on what I am not, I am focused on what he is for me. David Forster
Reaching the Heights