Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Relate: I had about a hundred dollars to my name when I left for Texas. Overnight I loaded up my car as full as it could possibly get. Anything that would not fit was either being given away or sold if I could. I was traveling seventeen hundred miles in a car with everything I owned for an interview. There was no guarantee of a job on the other end. It was the dumbest life change risk I have ever taken. I don’t just say that because I was miserable the whole time I was there. Six months after making that stupid trip I found myself loading up my car again and heading in another direction.
I was wrong, but I didn’t see it that way at the time. I honestly thought that God was calling me out there. Even though it wasn’t the right decision, it wasn’t the right leap, I believe that God honored the willingness to step out. What I should have done was seek out the wisdom of a godly mentor. What I should have done was bounce the idea off people who I knew and trusted. But barring that, even though it was the wrong choice, not stepping out where I felt God leading would have been just as wrong. There are times you just have to take a jump. Even if you don’t hit your landing, at least you have a great story to tell and a little more wisdom under your belt.
Esther did have the advice of a godly mentor but the advice she was being given seemed counter-intuitive. Mordecai had been like a parent for Esther ever since her birth parents had died. He had been there giving her sound wisdom and support during her meteoric rise to becoming queen. She had been there for five years now and Mordecai had always been there, on the outside as a parent, a mentor, and a friend.
Now Mordecai was targeted for death. Not just him but every Jew in the land of Persia (which covered most of the known world) was targeted for death. A time had been set and the clock was ticking. The thing is, nobody else knew that Esther was a Jew. She was safe. Not only that, but she was bound by law to only come to the king when he summoned her and that hadn’t happened in over a month. If Esther risked herself by coming before the king she wasn’t just breaking the law, she was risking death by offending the pride of a very prickly king. Even if she wasn’t killed on the spot, by revealing her heritage, she would voluntarily be placing that death clock over her own head as well. Esther was rich. She had prestige. She had luxury and comfort. Life was good. The downside to obedience was huge for her. Yet she took the risk and became one of the most famous queens in history. Tens of millions of women, including one of my sisters, now carry her honor by sharing her name.
React: I did go to that interview and did get that job. No, it wasn’t the right job for me. It wasn’t the right place for me. But when I was leaving Missouri for New York, debt-free, two years later I was returning a much wiser and humbler man. When I stepped foot back on SUNY Binghamton about six months after that, I knew I was coming full circle. I was also returning unencumbered by any debts or doubts. It took a few trips and tumbles to get there but I was truly supposed to be, but I am so grateful for the journey. I am grateful for the risk. What adventure is God calling you too? Are you afraid it isn’t the right jump? Does it not look safe? Are you afraid you won’t hit your landing? Don’t worry. I didn’t. But God’s grace is far bigger than our failures. Take a risk. God can work with misguided enthusiasm. He can’t work with fear and apathy.
I thank You for blessing me with the courage to take risks. Thank You for giving me the thirst for adventure. Thank You for the memories of the moments when I have done incredibly stupid things. Thank You for being there those times when I didn’t hit my landing. Thank You for helping me to get up and jump again. Help me to keep jumping. Help me to keep risking. You have so much more for me than what I am living. Help me to find it and go for it.