I went to Arkansas to visit my friend’s family this past weekend. After a crazy January of an intense Capstone class, four of my good friends and I loaded up “Big Blue” (a trusty Ford Escape) and headed south for the long weekend. This trip was filled with fun and laughter and joy because we had all finished classes, were celebrating two of the girls’ birthdays, and because we knew it was one of our last opportunities to road trip together.
On the day we left, one of the girls turned 22. We asked her reflection questions from the past year and her hopes for the next year. In response, she used this term, “calculated risk” to define what she wanted her theme to be for the coming year.
We started to use this phrase throughout the weekend, relating it to eating and yoga and four-wheeling. As we started to focus on taking calculated risks in the small things, I realized how careful I tend to be, trying to control situations and conversations and moments to what I think they need to be.
We made it back through the crazy weather and as I stood in chapel Monday morning worshipping with my beloved Taylor community, I realized how much of a risk it is to surrender everything for Jesus. I had a choice in these moments of worship: to forget all the other thoughts swirling around my mind and focus on Jesus or allow those other thoughts to take over.
This happens often in these moments, but that morning I decided to focus on why it was difficult to focus. I found it was easier to let those thoughts take over and more risky to focus on worship because in the space between the two, I had to lose something. And losing something is always hard.
When we intentionally involve the Lord in our daily thoughts and conversations and studies and alone times, we risk losing control.
There’s this tension between surrendering all to Jesus and holding on to those thoughts and grudges and future plans because losing control is terrifying. Losing control means realizing we can’t micromanage people or situations or plans to fit into our safe boxes of what we think life needs to look like.
So in the black unknown of every next moment, we have a choice: to react from fear and ease because we want control or risk losing that control and actually trusting in the hope that the Lord is faithful and provides.
If we don’t change, if we continue living from this fear of losing our perceived control of our futures and relationships and thoughts, we miss living from the hope of a good God who promises His best.
And well, I’m sick of missing out on hope.
Taking a risk in our faith, of surrendering all our thoughts and relationships and conversations and plans is worth the everyday struggle of getting there. Because when we lose control, we find freedom and hope and love.
But most of all we find Jesus. We find communion and life-changing love and the assurance that there is good right now and in our futures because He is already there.
And I’m learning that living in hope is far more satisfying than trying to hold on to control. I’m learning that it’s worth the risk.