The speeding blur barely registered on my brain before the brutal impact. My ribs cracked and all the air I had in me seemed to vacate my body. Stars filled my visual field. The old trauma nurse in me ticked off a list of possible damage; a ruptured spleen? A punctured lung? Maybe a pulmonary contusion would be my fate?
Within seconds, my ribs returned their normal positions and allowed fresh air to enter my lungs and clear the stars. Finally, my assumption of what happened was confirmed: Josue Caleb, my rambunctious two-year-old nephew, had arrived.
“P-a-a-a-a-t!!!” he gleefully exclaimed as he held on tightly to my shirt. I recovered in time to lift him high in the air before scootching him away with a laugh and a wince. He immediately turned and with a devilish little grin and dancing eyes said, “Otra vez!” (Again!). At this point, his mother intervened to stop him, probably because she had never seen me quite so pale before.
Over the next few hours, I watched little Josue and his cousin Mateo run all over the place while we celebrated a family birthday. Everything they did was at full-tilt. They slid under concrete stairs without worrying about striking their heads. They jumped and danced around without fear of twisting ankles. They dove after balloons and soccer balls without thinking they might scrape a knee.
And when they invariably DID scrape a knee, land funny on their ankles, and whack their heads on concrete, they cried for a second and then got right back into their reckless, full-throttle adventure. Their smiles and excitement seemed to get bigger each time they returned.
Every open door, hidden space, and raised platform represented a new opportunity for my nephews to explore. There was little thought involved as they sought to learn the secrets of each location. Sometimes, they spent relatively considerable time in a particularly entertaining venture. Other times, they quickly moved on. As I watched them, I thought, “Wow. What a great way to live.”
I thought of Jesus saying, “Follow me.” What if Simon (Peter) hesitated? What if he took the time to analyze the risks and benefits of Christ’s invitation? What if he decided to prepare his final catch of fish for market first?
When people ask me how I came to Christ, I like to tell them that I came kicking and screaming. My “Come to Jesus” moment was actually a series of moments over about a year. Several times I thought I was “all in”; just to have another event prove that I remained precipitously perched upon the fence.
Ultimately, I took up the invitation to follow Him; but when God subsequently told me my future was in Guatemala, I still tried to negotiate.
“If you let me keep my job for two or three more years, I can save enough money to devote ALL my time to missions!” I told Him.
The next thing I knew, my job was eliminated and God put Yesenia in my life.
In my business career, I was known as an “outside the box” manager; but I always knew just where that box was and how far we were going to be from its security. Risk analysis and growth potential were reviewed thoroughly; and escape (recovery) plans were always formulated before venturing into new territories. Weeks of sleepless nights often preceded even relatively small initiatives.
Of course, if we are dealing with other people’s money, employment and futures, some pre-planning is probably a good idea. But in our own lives, there are some things we just can’t plan for.
Nowadays, most of my pre-decision analysis comes down to one question: “Is this something that God wants me to do?” That is, is this decision consistent with Jesus’ lessons? Is it good? Or did Satan put this idea in my head to divert me from God’s intended path? Will it help anybody? Will it hurt anybody? Will it help me spread God’s glory?
God gave us the tools to make such judgments. He does not want us smashing our heads into concrete steps or skinning our knees by running blindly after every whim. But someday God will present an opportunity disguised as a challenge.
It may make little sense to others, but your heart will tell you it’s an adventure you must take on. Satan will line up naysayers to fill your brain with doubt and “reason”. The conflict will be overwhelming. Hopefully, it will at some point bring you to your knees.
We all want to feel secure. God loves us no matter what, so some ask, “Why take risks?” The answer is simple: because risks are all along the narrow path. If your path has been easy and wide for a while, it may be time to check the road you’re on. Call out to God and follow His voice. And if He rolls a balloon or a soccer ball by you, pounce on it!
“Pray about everything and then follow your heart; because in your heart resides the Lord who will never lead you into anything He has not prepared you to handle.” -PJ Joseph