Life is one big, fat risk. It’s a risk to wake up in the morning. It’s a risk to leave the house, to go to a job, to let people love you and to love people back. It’s a risk to share your story with another person or hear someone else’s journey. You might get manipulated. You might get slighted, rejected, misheard or misunderstood. You might lose your job or lose your hair or your mind at times. But risk is the way in which we connect to our world. We plant flowers and smell rain and touch souls and bandage hurts. When you walk out the door every morning, you’re encountering a day that’s never been. And you’re encountering it in a way that no one else will. There’s something spectacular about a day packaged with unknown after unknown. And there’s potential for greatness—the potential to meet warmth and love and generosity and opportunities to encourage and change the world.
But risk can produce sunshine and roses or thorns and brick walls.
I woke up one morning eight months ago to a text from a friend in difficult life circumstances. She was three weeks pregnant and asked Brett and me to adopt her unborn child. The next months were filled with excited preparation, unanswered questions, fear, anxiety and uncertainty about what we should do. But yesterday, we completed our home study; with the help of some incredible ladies, we got the nursery ready, and baby Gibson’s stocking is hanging with the other four.
I can only imagine the difficulty of this decision for my friend. With three kids already, there is a deep struggle in her heart. While I’ve been putting together a crib, she’s negotiating her desire to love her baby and be a good mom with the reality of what she’s capable of doing.
This morning I got another text. She’s decided to disrupt the adoption and parent instead. My heart slid its way up into my throat and cut off my voice. I felt cold and hot and sad and confused and heartbroken. I assured her of our love for her and the baby and offered our continued support.
Despite warning signs, I honestly didn’t think this is how it would end. Maybe I should have. Would it have hurt less if I hadn’t unwrapped the newborn diapers or the pink onesies? Should I have planned for disappointment instead of finishing adoption training?
I want to say how stupid it is to take risks—how stupid it is to put ourselves out there and offer friendship to a world capable of wounding us. Why should we try and serve and love and give ourselves when there is no guarantee we’ll get what we want?
But is there any other way to live in the kingdom? We face the example of the risky love of a Good Samaritan or a father whose son leaves home and squanders his inheritance or the risky love of a savior who comes to earth.
There’s no way around this whole risk thing. It is the language of our stories. Risk is the musical score of our symphonies. It’s jumping up when you could lay down and climbing out of bed instead of hibernating.
We don’t live unless we risk.
It’s why we wake up. It’s why we keep going. Because we expect that there is something we didn’t finish yesterday that still needs to be done. Maybe it’s in our souls. Maybe it’s at our jobs or with our neighbors, but there is life to be lived. And this life can’t come without risk.
When Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, he wants to be where Jesus is. He experiences the tension with his desire to be with Jesus and the risk of walking on water. How can this work? How will it ever work out to step out onto something as unstable as stormy waters? Yet, if that’s where Jesus is, maybe that’s where we need to be willing to go.
After my friend experienced great tragedy, he said to me, “Jesus never promised Peter he’d make it to the other side of the lake. He just promised Peter he’d make it to Jesus himself.”
Maybe there is a guarantee in risk. That no matter what the end result, no matter if we never get a baby or see illness cured or see deep injustice righted, we always know we can make it to Jesus.
And this morning, that’s the encouragement I need.