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  • Renata Joseph

Risking Ourselves


Big life-changing decisions are few and far-between. Much more common, and just as potent, are the little moments. In conversations, will we hold back what's really going on, or will we choose vulnerability? Will we mask our weakness and need, or will we open ourselves up to others? Will we spend our free time pursuing our own interests, or take a chunk of that time in service to others? ordered life; the thought of that order being upended can cause panic to set in. u


In times of comfort, it can seem ludicrous to do anything to upset the calm. Why ruin a good thing? As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Eddie and I have felt challenged to do just that on several occasions. The first time was our decision to move-in with some friends as newlyweds. Family members thought we were nuts to risk it, but we felt that the potential rewards were worth the risk. We believed that inviting others into our inner lives would give both parties unique opportunity to grow. The natural tendency is to close oneself off, to isolate and not let others into your insecurities, your petty arguments or bad attitudes. By opening up, you risk being truly known, and rejected. The time we lived with our friends was rich and so rewarding. They continue to be close friends of ours, 15 years later.


Another time we chose risk over self-preservation was when we decided to foster teenagers. We had young children at the time and we willingly chose to bring damaged teenagers into our home to live with us. Some of our friends were incredulous and even angry that we would "risk our own kids" by taking in teens. Again, we were aware of all the reasons why we shouldn't do it, but the call to serve those kids was stronger than our desire to stay comfortable. Over eight years we had young people in our home, teaching us how to parent, teaching us to be patient and how to communicate. They were big brothers and sisters to our kids and, we hope we gave them a family where they felt seen and accepted. Yes it was work. Yes it was sometimes stressful and we lost some sleep. But it was worth the risk.


Our most recent choice to embrace risk was moving to Central America as missionaries. Back in Seattle we had friendships, my parents nearby, a home and careers we both enjoyed. Selling or giving everything away was a sacrifice. Leaving our comfortable lives was a risk. We had no guarantees that our financial support would continue to sustain us. We had no clue what we were walking into, or what life God had waiting for us here. And still we chose the risk because we know if God is going to use us for His purposes, we have to be willing to get uncomfortable and counteract our instinct to "look out for number 1."


Big life-changing decisions are few and far-between. Much more common, and just as potent, are the little moments. In conversations, will we hold back what's really going on, or will we choose vulnerability? Will we mask our weakness and need, or will we open ourselves up to others? Will we spend our free time pursing our own interests, or take a chunk of that time in service to others?


Christ is the ultimate example of a life lived for God. He chose weakness over strength, vulnerability over power, discomfort over ease. He calls us to follow His lead, allowing Him to empower us in our weakness.


2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,

so that Christ’s power may rest on me.


If you're feeling powerless, like you are white knuckling your hold on life, God may be calling you instead to let go. Let go of your need to control outcomes and protect yourself. Open yourself up to vulnerability and risk. His power is manifested as we risk ourselves.

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