87-Risky Business In 2020

The Kentucky air was damp in between the torrential downpours that created small lakes on the sides of the roads and parking areas as we drove back to what we called home for the last few days.  Our group of five was camped out in the Red River Gorge forest high up on a ridge-line above the river that was surely flowing much harder since 4pm that afternoon.  Our particular site was still intact, a small one-man tent staked sturdily to the firm soil, a four-man basecamp tent yielding slightly to the pounding water and allowing a tiny stream of water to enter its safety, and  a two-person Tentsile pulled taunt between three trees, elevated four feet off the soaked dirt below.  Satisfied that my tent fly was positioned properly to stand as a firm shield throughout the night, I hopped up into my hammock-like tent and settled in for our final night away from home.


After a hard day on the wall and hiking a heavier pack than my muscles could possibly remember since life pre-covid, my head hit the pillow hard and my mind drifted into its usual dreamland.  Two forty-five AM arrived with a loud crack, the sound of a giant bending a large log over his knee, applying increase pressure, teeth clenched until one fiber after another synchronized into a loud break that echoed through the forest.  Same sound as that, except I don’t think it was a giant… it only made sense that it was a the much more powerful force of nature itself.  Each tune was clearly identified even in the midst of deep sleep—a deep crack, branches snapping like twigs as the beast soared toward the earth and shook the ground in a solid thud that echoed through our ears.  I say our, because all five of us awoke suddenly, fearfully, and wondering just how close that tree was to smashing us.


I lay awake for a several moments after that thinking about how close the fall was, wondering if I missed a dead tree around our site that could be catastrophic to us in the very next hour.  Fear not, God’s got this Matt.  Give us rest tonight, I prayed before drifting back to where dreamland was awaiting my return.  In the midst of our current world there are risks.  As a guide we calculate risk constantly—trust this rope, will there be a rockfall at this site, are we in a good location to avoid lightning?  Will this entire ice wall crash into the lake today?  Will we encounter a reckless driver on the drive home?  There is this poem that I often read to my guys when guiding up in the Coastal Mountains in British Columbia and I would like to share it with you now:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your dreams, ideas before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave: they have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is truly free.

– Anonymous 


Jen and I are currently edging toward the risk of discomfort as we toil over the decision to move to Flint to be closer to the people we feel called to reach… risk is not easy, but I preach to myself when I say that risk is certainly necessary to find our full potential that God has made us to be.  What are you running from right now?  Dive in, take the risk and we would love to be encouraged as we hear about what risks you have faced head-on.  Do share!