LEAVING THE COMFORT ZONE

snake river raftingHe said, “That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.” [Luke 19:26 (MSG)]

If I am never tempted, and cannot even imagine myself being tempted, to gamble, this does not mean that I am better than those who are. The timidity and pessimism which exempt me from that temptation themselves tempt me to draw back from those risks and adventures which every man ought to take. [From “Reflections on the Psalms” by C.S. Lewis]

We were accompanied by two grandchildren, ages fifteen and eighteen, during part of our trip west. When my husband mentioned taking them on a raft trip, I pictured a scenic float down the Snake River and readily agreed. What got booked, however, was a white water adventure. Not a thrill seeker, adrenaline inducing adventures are not my thing. I was not happy about the scheduled activity and began thinking of ways to gracefully bow out of it. By coincidence (or what I call God-incidence), the above quote by C. S Lewis arrived in my email. I realized that my fear of stepping out of my rather narrow comfort zone was threatening to keep me from sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with my precious grands. Lewis’ words (and some much needed prayer) convinced me that this was one adventure I should not miss.

Prayer got me in the raft and I bravely paddled through the rapids. Even after we tipped and lost six of the eight passengers on the third set of rapids, witnessing the grins on the kids’ faces as they were pulled back into the raft made both the dunking and the adrenaline spike worth it. All’s well that ends well and, in spite of the soaking in the rapids, the rafting wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I’d imagined. When asked to name the highlight of their twelve days with us, our grands both mentioned the raft trip—and to think I nearly missed sharing that experience with them! The pictures taken from the photographer’s spot on shore would not have captured their smiles and whoops of delight at the rapids or the thrill of the ride!

While a certain amount of caution is wise, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, there are certain risks and adventures that none of us should miss. Timidity, pessimism, faint-heartedness, fear, and anxiety can keep us from unsafe behavior like drugs, gambling, or adultery but they shouldn’t make us retreat “from those risks and adventures which every man [and woman] ought to take.” Consider what they would have missed if Peter had allowed fear to keep him from stepping out of the boat onto the water, if David had allowed faint-heartedness to keep him from facing Goliath, or if Moses and Gideon had allowed their pessimism to prevent them from accepting the tasks given them by God.

God invites us to participate in world-changing adventures that probably have nothing to do with white water rafting. We mustn’t allow a reticence to step out of our comfort zones prevent us from accepting His invitation to go on that journey. While the adventure may involve an element of risk, the rewards will be well worth it!

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. … Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. [Philippians 4:8-9,13 (MSG)]

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