Last week I was in Galveston with my family, and while we were there we celebrated my dad’s birthday. His one wish for his big day was to go to the Pleasure Pier and, “ride rides until we puke!”
So we went on a Wednesday night, which was perfect because the lines were super short and the weather was amazing. It was after sundown, so the whole place was all lit up. It was either the perfect setting for a cheesy love scene of a romantic comedy, or the perfect setting for the next Final Destination movie. ‘Cause you know carnivals at night can be a little creepy.
Anyway, we rode some rides, kind of working our way up from the bottom in the intensity level. We made our way towards the end of the pier, bypassing the roller coaster because we wanted to save the best for last, and we got on the swings.
Now these swings are just like the ones you’ve ridden at the fair before. Only these raise you 230 feet up into the air before you actually start swinging. The website advertises it as something like, “a breath-taking panoramic view of the coast as you glide above the pier…”
The only thing breath-taking about it was the ocean breeze smacking you in the face while spinning you all sorts of different ways. By the end of it, I was sweating, I had cottonmouth from the wind, I wanted to throw up, and my eyes had wind burn. I only saw blurred glimpses of the alleged panoramic view. You honestly could not pay me to get back on that ride a second time.
So after that I was done for. Even the Ferris wheel made me queasy. When we finally got to the roller coaster, minutes before the pier closed, I was kind of waiting for someone to give me an out. The swings had me coming up with all the possible scenarios for me to die that night. We were literally standing in the line when my mom decided she didn’t want to ride. Well, there was my out. If mom’s not going, I’m not. See ya!
Out we went. My dad and my sisters stayed.
I was experiencing a hint of FOMO, but I had made a decision and had also pretty much rationalized in my head that I was saving myself from a potential meeting with death. My dad and my sisters came off all hyped up on adrenaline and decided to get straight back in line to ride a second time.
Again, I decided not to join them. I felt like such a wimp.
So we left, and as we drove away and I could see the lights of the pier behind us, I kind of had that heart-sinking feeling of regret. The feeling when you miss out on something that you had the chance to do.
Obviously after that night, I was fine and not harboring any feeling of regret of not getting on a roller coaster. But it got me thinking about taking risks and how I really don’t ever want to have that feeling of a missed opportunity or regret of declining a risk-taking invitation that God lays on the table.
I can shake not riding the Iron Shark in Galveston. I can’t shake irrationally rejecting an opportunity to risk with God. I don’t want to be sitting on the bench when the people I could have joined on an adventure with Him come out the gate all hyped up about what God just did after they said yes and got on the ride, no matter the risk.
What am I afraid of losing, anyway?
The very definition of the work risk is “a situation involving exposure to danger or loss.” But when have I ever lost when the God who is already victorious is the one going before me?
I started thinking about times in my life that I’ve risked and failed. Like the four times in my career that I dove in for a soccer ball and came out with a concussion. Or the failed relationships I’d been through in the past. Or applying for jobs I didn’t get.
Maybe we’re afraid to risk and fail because our past failures have scarred us. But maybe it’s not about us. What if when we say no to a risk because we fear what failure will feel or look like, we’re saying no to all the lives of others that it was intended for us to impact by taking that risk? What if we’re supposed to step out so that we can make a way for someone else? Are we willing to risk then?
And maybe four concussions was the cost of paving the way for four state championships. Maybe failed relationships and heartache was actually protecting my heart so that my husband could have it one day, and have all of it. Maybe it was never about what I was losing but what others were gaining.
I’m reminded of Esther, who hesitates at first on taking a risk but at the word of Mordecai who challenges her that perhaps she was called for such a time as this, ends up laying her life on the line in order to save a people.
That is a righteous risk.
I’m reminded of the bleeding woman we read about in the gospels, and how she was probably considered unclean and she’d been ostracized for twelve years, she probably shouldn’t have been anywhere near crowds of people — but she pushed through a crowd just to touch the robe of Jesus, because she wanted to feel his healing power that bad.
And his response is proof that she was a righteous risker too. “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” (Matt. 9:22, The Message)
And maybe we’re an Esther generation, called for such a time as this. Maybe it’s time for us to become righteous risk takers. Maybe there’s an entire generation of people waiting to be set free if we would only respond to the risk invitation.
And to think that we don’t even have to push through a crowd to touch the garment that’s touching Jesus, because his spirit is in us. We are the garment — always touching him.
Maybe there are people waiting to be liberated, and maybe we’re being invited to join God in being victorious, and maybe Mordecai’s challenge goes for all of us.
“Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for them from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:12-14, The Message)
Suddenly I would much rather risk and fail than fail to risk.