"They all seem very impressive, as if these people are either superhuman or have superhuman photo-editing skills. But do you want to know something? That 'cliff' isn’t that far off the ground. In fact, it’s about two metres (sic) off the ground. It’s a popular tourist spot in Pedra do Telegrafo, Brazil."
But then, Carter spills the beans by sharing these “behind the scenes” photos.
"That spot is not always serene or magical or whatever. Almost every day, there is a long line of people waiting just to take photos on that spot. These people probably wait for hours under the hot sun, take 50–100 photos of themselves in varying positions, then go home, spend about thirty minutes editing them and post only one on Instagram. It’s kinda pathetic."
He wasn’t talking about the people themselves being pathetic, but rather what they are doing. They had stood in line for hours to take photos of themselves only appearing to do something risky, when in fact they were playing it safe all the time. In short, they desired to have the reward for a risk they were not really willing to take!
So, for me, this is not just an article about faking an adventure; it’s also an article on human nature. In life, so many people seem to desire the rewards (satisfaction, recognition, remuneration, etc…) associated with some given adventure without really taking the necessary risks required to achieve them. Or at the very least, without minimizing any associated risks to the point that they are slight at best.
Perhaps there are a few lessons for life here. Ang given that we are on the cusp of a new year, please allow me to offer a few here…
To begin with, we would all do well this coming year to learn to TAKE A FEW RISKS. After all, let’s face it. Life is about taking risks. As the old adage goes: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." When we choose only to play it safe, therefore, nothing ever gets accomplished.
Before Columbus, a large sign was posted on the Gibraltar peninsula at the passage out of the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. It read simply, "Non plus ultra!" Translated, that meant "No more beyond!"
Christopher Columbus did not accept this. Called a fool, he was told that the world was flat, and that if he sailed west from Europe, he would fall soon off the end of the earth. But he chose to take the risk nonetheless. Why? Because he knew in his heart that there had to be more than he had been told there was! And where would we be today if Columbus had not sailed the ocean blue?
So it is in our spiritual life. Famed Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard built an entire system on what he famously called "the leap of faith". His contention was that life consists of a progression of three stages: the "aesthetic" (in which we pursue only pleasure); the "ethical" (when our inclinations give way to our sense of obligations, to self and to others); and eventually (as well as hopefully), the "religious" (when we finally learn to give ourselves over to something higher than just ourselves and/or our role in society).
To enter into this final stage of maturity, a person must learn to take what Kierkegaard famously called a "leap of faith". This happens when we reach the point that we acknowledge there is a God, that we are in need of Him, and that our lives ultimately have no meaning apart from Him. As a Christian, Kierkegaard understood this to mean our recognition of Jesus Christ and His claims on our life. In short, this is when we finally bring ourselves to utter the phrase: "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief."
If you have not yet done so, why not take this most fundamental of all risks this year? Why not take this essential “leap of faith” that opens the door to a whole new future, both for this world and the one to come? You will find it most rewarding, I assure you.
Beyond this, second, we would all do well this coming year to learn to TAKE A FEW MORE RISKS.
The "leap of faith" is meant to be but the first of many in the life of men and women. We must learn to take more and more risks, for after all, this is the way we grow.
As these opportunities present themselves, remember that some risks are easy. By this, I mean the little ones - the ones that require little effort or little courage or little faith. But we should never stop with these. In order to grow, we must learn to keep on taking bigger and bigger risks, for again, this is how we grow.
The Lord has blessed me with seven grandsons, aged four years through four months. In turn, I have watched them all grow. How? By taking risks! First they had to risk rolling over, then risk sitting up, then risk crawling, then risk standing, then risk walking, then risk running, etc… Yet, at each step, they have grown. And the risks will inevitably keep on coming, as they will one day risk learning to ride a bike, to drive a car, perhaps even to fly a plane…
Of course, in our spiritual life, just as in our personal life, taking bigger and bigger risks is the way we keep on growing. I love the scene in the movie, Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, where the title character is having step out in faith and cross a very deep chasm. The rock path beneath his feet only becomes visible as he keeps taking subsequent steps of faith. Thus, with each passing step, his confidence grows, and eventually, he crosses to the other side.
Each time I see this, I think of Peter as he boldly took the risk and in response to Christ’s bidding, walked, step by step, out across the top of the Sea of Galilee! Later on in the New Testament, Peter would say to a crippled man, "Arise and walk!" And this man would then take his own first bold risky steps! Like Peter, he too would soon know the rewards of stepping out in faith! But only because Peter himself had first taken a risk, and was now taking another, even bigger one in turn, as he trusted God to heal this man!
Why not take a few more risks this year? Why not make this business of risking things an ongoing progression, as you learn to take "step of faith" after "step of faith"? Not only you, but others as well might benefit when you do!
Third, we would all do well this coming year to learn to TAKE A FEW MORE REWARDING RISKS.
The greatest rewards always require the greatest risks! But the greatest risks always provide the greatest rewards. This is precisely why some risks are far more important, and far more critical, than other ones. But such risks are also essential. And also far more worthwhile in the long run!
After crossing what would one day be called the English Channel, Julius Caesar burned his ships in order to prevent his men form retreating in their conquest of Britain. Later, back in Italy, he boldly crossed the River Rubicon, knowing full well that doing so would set him on a collision course with others as he marched toward Rome and his destiny!
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul also took certain radically bold steps. He could have walked away from imprisonment a free man, but boldly chose to appeal to Caesar knowing he must take the Gospel to the very heart of the evil empire! True, this risky move was to cost Paul his life. But it was also to allow him to fulfil his destiny as the Apostle to the Gentiles!
History would later record a similar episode in the life of the Apostle Peter. He too was given the opportunity to flee Rome, but under conviction, chose instead to return and faced the wrath of the original antichrist. A risky move? Yes indeed. But as was the case with Paul earlier, a critical one for the future of Christendom!
Continue down through Christian history and see, time and again, how the great saints of the faith took the greatest, yet most rewarding of risks. Whether it was Martin Luther as he boldly nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church, or John Wesley, as he introduced what was at the time unpopular yet much needed new “methods” within the Church of England, or Roger Williams, as he bucked the status quo and established a safe place for Separatist Baptists in a newfound colony that would one day become Rhode Island.
Why not follow suit and find and take some profoundly rewarding risk this year? Why not ask god what is the single most important risk you can take for Him in life and the undertake it? In short, why not make 2021 the single riskiest year yet in your own life? If you do, it might just well prove to become the most rewarding year of your life as well!
I conclude with the familiar story of a tightrope stretched over the quarter mile span of Niagara Falls, with the thundering sound of the pounding water drowning out all others as a man steps onto the rope and walk across. The year was 1859, and the man was Charles Blondin, who proceeded to walk 160 feet above the falls several times back and forth between Canada and the USA, even as large crowds on both sides looked on in awe.
First he crossed in a sack, then on stilts, then on a bicycle, yet again even carrying stove and cooking an omelet! Finally, he walked backward across the tightrope to Canada, and returned pushing a wheelbarrow.
We are told that, then pushing the wheelbarrow across yet again, this time while blindfolded, that Blondin asked for some audience participation. The crowds had watched in amazement as he had proven what he could do. There was no doubt about any of this. But then, he asked for a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow and take a ride across the falls with him!
It is reported that he asked the audience, "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?" Of course they all shouted yes, that they believed! It was then that Blondin is said to have posed a powerful question – "Then who will get in the wheelbarrow?" Sadly, we are told, no one would!
What risk is God calling you to take this year? Will you take that step? If not, how will you ever know the reward associated with it?!
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