“Stand back,” the man behind the counter instructed me. “Hold out your cone and I’ll throw you the scoop of ice cream.”
People in the ice cream shop fixed their eyes on me as I focused on the man behind the counter. Knowing my lack of hand-eye coordination, I knew I was taking a risk. Everyone in front of me had opted for ice cream served to them in a cup, but that day, I decided to live dangerously.
All Of Us Want To Live Meaningful Lives
“The abundant life is not a comfortable life, it’s a meaningful life,” wrote author Donald Miller in a recent Facebook post.
Nor is it a pain-free life, I might add.
Reflecting on an uncomfortable (to say the least) summer filled with disappointment, frustration, and pain, I think I’ve gleaned at least one gold nugget that I hope to carry with me into the future.
While on vacation in another state, our family was trying to make the most of the week, despite the fact that my wife had broken a bone in her ankle. We were renting a house on a large lake and whiling the day away water-skiing and tubing.
A family that joined us had four children. One of the kids pursued his passion for fishing while two of the others learned to water-ski. One kid, however, did her best to avoid any activity that involved risk or the potential for pain. Occasionally I was able to coax her into riding on a tube behind our boat—but she jumped off whenever I drove too fast or too crazy.
At first, this girl’s pursuit of the safe, pain-free life irritated me. But then I began to realize that she isn’t alone. In many ways, I tend to live like her. Perhaps you do, too.
I think the solution boils down to living scared.
If You Want A Memory, You Have To Risk Something
“Do one thing every day that scares you,” Eleanor Roosevelt once said.
Obviously, we shouldn’t live every day paralyzed by fear, as I discussed in a previous blog post.
But living scared means taking risks. John Ortberg once wrote a book entitled “If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat.” Too many of us want memories of walking on the water without taking the risk of dipping our toes in the water.
What does it mean to live scared? For me it means planting a church–which I did four years ago with my good friend Eugene Scott. It means working at becoming a better water-skier, standing up to someone who intimidates me, or sharing my faith with a friend. It also means the possibility of dropping my ice cream on the floor.
In the end, I caught the flying ice cream…sort of. After it hit my shirt, I wrestled it into my cone. Walking to my table to join the family, I sat down with a feeling of accomplishment–and the chocolate stain served as my trophy.
No longer do I want to live scared.
What does it mean for you to live scared?
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:1 (NLT)
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. His most recent venture into living scared was volunteering to provide leadership for a local school district mill levy and bond issue.
One note: The Daily Bible Conversation blog is shuttering its doors at the end of August…at least for now. The blog has run its course, so Michael, Eugene, and Brendan will direct their energies in other areas. Beginning September 7, Michael will begin a new blog entitled “God Meets Culture” at michaeljklassen.com.
8 responses to “Why You Want To Live Scared (At Least A Little)”
In my day, society-wise, the “quest” was to “break the mold”: “Conformity,… blah!” When things are “too easy”, “too convenient”, “too predictable”, “too patterned”, “too safe”, it seems that the human spirit wants to call that a confining “box”, and then proceed to find a way to get out of it,… (as in “Go West, young man, Go West!”),… potentially frustrating for all concerned,… like watching a poor mother cat when her kittens reach that curious, able, and agile age, when no box can contain them any longer,… it’s an irrepressible impulse/desire,… but also comes with the caution that “Curiosity killed the cat”,… however many are supposedly endowed with 9 lives,… so I guess it could be said that “God provides!”
I’m all for “breaking the mold” when the mold is lulling us to sleep,… leaving us “tranced-out” via repetitive, empty (especially electronic) stimulation,… and causing us to live an imitative, consuming and insubstantial life,…
There are very godly ways to break the mold, actually,… one is telling the truth (with wisdom),… our own truth,… the truth of who we are, or who we would like to be,… saying the nice and affirming thing to “that person”, who(m) it might just be easier (and more comfortable) to just (pretend to) “passively ignore”,…
Gratuitous generosity is another great potential adventure in unselfishness and self-expression,…
Very small, but very deliberate honest and intentional efforts such as these, will make our lives more “ours” and “to the point” and “fleshed out” with our own integrity and personal skin “in the game,”…
and better yet, if we can dedicate our enterprising and “mold-breaking” ingenuity and efforts to God,…
we’ve called it “self-actualization” sometimes,… “self-actualization” with a godly twist,… sounds good to me!,… not boring, anyway! (-:
edit: and “too systematized”
Many are zealous to explore physical things outwardly, — (collecting all kinds of quasi-scientific data and theories in the process) — and call it adventure,… but assuming that there is no serious digging to do inwardly (and nothing to discover) can be a big mistake,… Taking our lives for granted and in a surface-y kind of way may lead to a disappointing and cliched shallowness ultimately,… but how to jump-start a real interest in this type of personal challenge, is not so easy to say,… (is it?),…
When we do find our most authentic selves — having sifted through a lot of angst and debris, most likely, in the process — it will feel as much like a welcome “coming home,” as it will also be a great reward for serious perseverance,… It should also be no real surprise that this more truly authentic self is the one that will most resemble and also understand the essence and character of “God, the Father,” — in whose image we have been created and designed,… it’s the greatest search open to man,…
His Word, the Bible, is one excellent guide,…
I want to thank each of you, Brendan, Eugene, and Michael, for all your original creations that have opened up this blog-conversation,… as a “token” of thanks and appreciation, I will leave each one a music sample from you-tube, that I think the Lord just led me to (via a slightly unusual dream),…
thank you,… I hope it works,… otherwise I’ll give you the ID info & you can find them on you-tube,… God Bless!
Thank you Georgie-ann for your many insightful comments–and for the Don Moen video. I hope you’ll join me at michaeljklassen.com. I plan on sending an email invitation later this week (once I set up the site).
I’ll be looking forward with interest to the way things develop!
Another possibly relevant consideration about the advisability of having some “fear” involved in the process of living life, is that life actually is not safe,… this is something we really can’t simply ignore, or just take “for granted”,… It can be very impersonal and unpredictable, and will not necessarily be having our safety, preferences, and other best interests at heart, the way loving, nurturing and protective family members often would,…
“Never drive faster than your angels can fly” is a good and loving general thought/prescription, but certainly doesn’t cover all the things that can possibly go wrong while out on the road. Misappropriating overly simplistic philosophies and rationales of (and for) faith can beget misleading and unrealistic expectations,… as well as growing up in a “plasticized” and overly-protective world, where some inherent dangers are just not encountered early on,… and our judgment abilities, as a result, do not become refined or very fine-tuned,…
It is unfortunate that some of the most beloved and protected children will face unexpected and “rude awakenings”, disappointment and even sad deception, in places and people where they expected to find something they would be able to trust,… this is very difficult,…
Human nature, by itself, is neither omniscient nor trustworthy,… factor in the “lucifer effect” and you may also find “curved balls” from hell showing up in random and unpredictable fashion,…
The Bible advises us to be aware/vigilant:
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves.”
Ephesians 5:15,16 [Walk in Wisdom]
15 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Achieving a balance between healthy “fear” and trusting confidence, is one hallmark of spiritual maturity, gained via experience and practice, wisdom and prayer,… Finding freedom and joy in living, loving God and others, being able to be “carefree” while also being “careful”, is the “genius” result of God’s spiritual wisdom and life abiding faithfully within us:
1 Peter 5:6,7
6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
edit: “plasticized” and overly protective environment,