I’ve been moving through these winter days like someone moves through icy roads. Slow, uneven, careful. I keep slipping, losing my footing, and then returning to the path more cautious than ever. In a season that is typically about setting lofty goals and determining to make this year count for something, I am over here watching yet another episode of Gilmore Girls and fighting the desire to stay on my couch for the rest of winter. An apprehension has crept into my soul, and I am hesitant to even daydream about what this year my hold, lest I trip over my feet as I attempt follow these dreams.
So these weeks have been about doing the bare minimum. And as an adult with multiple jobs and responsibilities I’ve pulled myself off the couch and am getting to the work and rehearsals and chores that I need to. But while I move from task to task, getting through each hour of the day like it’s a weight to be born, I feel a niggling at the corner of my heart. A whisper, barely audible, brushing at the edge of my soul. Maybe I’m meant for more.
Maybe I’m playing it safe over here these winter months. Maybe I’m treading with caution across these days when I’m meant to run through them, arms outstretched, eyes wide open. Maybe I could be a little more bold, a little more daring, a little wilder. Maybe I could take some risks.
There’s this parable that Jesus told about three servants. Each were given an amount of money. But it doesn’t have to be money, it could be time or talents or any sort of resource. And each were free to do what they wanted with this money. Two of them chose to take it and use it, to put it toward something bigger. Investment, enterprise, innovation. They put themselves out on a limb, with the understanding that their ideas might fail, that they might lose it all. And then there was the third servant. Afraid of what might happen if he tried anything, afraid of disappointing his master, afraid of error. He buried his money and sat down on it until his master returned.
The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ –Matthew 24:26-30 (MSG)
The Kingdom of God is not for fearful perfectionists. It is not for the ones who walk careful, cautious lives, worried about making a mistake, worried about falling short, worried about disappointing the crowds, worried about getting hurt. The Kingdom of God is for risk takers. For the brave men and women who go forward into the year alive and excited about the next big thing God will do through them, eager to go further and run harder.
It’s not about doing more, achieving more, meeting more goals, gaining approval. It’s not about getting the most return on your money or finding the most lucrative investment. There is room in the Kingdom for the people who fail, who make mistakes, whose ideas turn out to be flops. The important thing is that we are moving forward, getting out of our comfort zone, and taking risks.
I’ll probably watch a few more Gilmore Girls episodes before this winter is out. I’m sure there will be evenings in that call for hot cocoa and Netflix binges. I’m allowing myself to move slowly and insuring I take rests when needed. But at the same time I’m ready to go beyond cautiously stepping through my days, fearful of the fall that seems inevitable.
So I get out my journal and some brightly colored pens. I start jotting down ideas, hopes, goals. I take a long look at all the little squares that make up the calendar for the rest of the year. I pray and I plan and I dream. It looks daunting and difficult, it feels so far fetched. But I keep writing, I keep wondering what this year might look like if I lived a little less afraid of failing, a little less cautiously. I keep moving forward, ready to give up this careful living and ready to take a few risks.