Spiritual Training Cycle: Connection (wk. 13/13)
My son gripped the barbell and then let go. “I don’t know, Dad.”
“You’ve got this,” I told him. “You’re about to PR your deadlift.”
“But I’ve never lifted this much weight before.”
“I’ve seen all your training and preparation. Your hard work is going to pay off.”
With a very light seasoning of confidence, Jack cinched his belt, braced his back and lats, and attached himself to the bar. Moments later, he let out a roar of joy when he locked out his new PR. As the barbell landed on the mat, I rested in the confidence that his attempt was a calculated risk.
Risk. Just the word itself can incite fear and anxiety in most. Because who likes taking risks? Maybe the daredevils on the Red Bull channel in my doctor’s office, but me? You? Risk? Feels a little dicey. And it can be. If you don’t know what’s on the other side. But if you do know, or you’ve taken that risk before, it changes things. It’s not the dark abyss of the unknown. It’s calculated.
And that’s good news because we must take risks – especially when it comes to building community. Community is God’s design for the growth of humanity. Plain and simple – if you have no community, you will not truly experience the fullness of life.
But entering a new community is not easy. It takes risk. Risk is the price of admission in community. Take community fitness gyms for example. If you’re a part of one, then you know it took a risk to join. For some of you the risk was low. You had a friend who constantly gushed about how great the gym was and how she’s made so many friends and you’ve seen how great she looks in her new skinny jeans. So, when you joined her to “check it out,” the risk was definitely calculated.
Others of you didn’t have that experience. You went in blindly, which is to say you hit the website, filled out the new athlete intake form, and came in the next day ready for a new adventure. Or did you? Maybe you had a little extra nervous energy. Maybe you even considered “trying again tomorrow.” But when you pulled up to a place you had never been before, and started looking at a whole bunch of faces you had never seen, the truth is you wondered. You didn’t wonder if the programming was good. You didn’t wonder if the space was clean. You wondered something much deeper – Could you belong? Would there be a place for you there? Would you feel known and safe? And that required a risk.
You didn’t even know what was on the other side. The friendships you would make. The camaraderie you would build. The support you would get from your coaches. As you became a part of the fabric of you community, you found yourself being the class ambassador, always welcoming new athletes who were punching their own risk tickets. But like I knew with Jack and his lift, you knew about the community you’re a part of. The risk was worth it.
In today’s passage of Scripture, we read about a disciple of Jesus named Ananias. Ananias found himself in a town called Damascus, where another man, a persecutor of Jesus followers, also found himself. His name was Saul. God spoke to Ananias and gave him a simple message – go and lay hands on Saul. But Ananias hedged. He had heard the reports about Saul and the harm he had done to other followers of Christ. For Ananias to carry out God’s calling, he would need to take a risk.
A risk that would initially result in welcoming Saul into a new community faith when he committed his life to Jesus. A risk that would eventually lead Saul to become the Apostle Paul, who would be the chosen instrument to bring the Gospel to a whole new audience of people – the gentiles. Ananias may not have realized it, but his risk was calculated – because God was at the center of it!
What are you willing to risk to help others grow? Would you risk stepping out in faith to start something new? Would you risk offering an apology with no expectation of one in return? Would you risk sharing the pain of your past or your anxiety about tomorrow?
There’s only one place to take those risks – in community. When you find a healthy community with God at the center, jump in. If you haven’t found one yet, start praying about it. Life transformation requires that we live somewhat uncomfortable lives. Lives which require us to take risks. With God at the center, even when you can’t see it, the risk is calculated.
Questions for Reflection:
Does taking a risk make you nervous or anxious?
What kinds of risks have you taken to help yourself grow?
What have you risked to help someone else grow?