Risking It All For—WHAT? … Hello weekend readers. I hope this April springtime is blooming in the joy of your hearts! It’s been a week working at the campground here in New Mexico and that brings me to this weekend musing: risk-takers. Why—for what? Last year our precious pueblos in New Mexico were closed because of the pandemic. The governor of this state did not want her precious people to be decimated by the virus, neither did the people, and they trusted each other to close down until it was safe for their communities.

Well, they are still not fully open, but the target date for the wildly popular Taos Pueblo opens in June, and likely the rest will follow. It’s been tough for them, they love us gringos to visit and share in their stories, discover their talents and even watch them hoop dance, make pottery and of course, share in their delicious fry-bread and home-made tortillas (now I am drooling!). The state helped provide financially for their losses. It also turned out that the closures were exactly what was needed to keep them healthy. We can’t wait to visit many of them once again, especially going to one of the pow-wows and hoop dancing!

This leads me to risk-taking, and no doubt we’ve all gotten probably closer to “the edge” than we’d should have! My first Class 4/5 water-rafting trip terrified me at first, but then I grew to love it. Keeping fit, understanding the risks, how to handle risky waters, was tantamount to enjoying this risky sport and I embraced that. You all have your stories, too. Here’s another side to risk that—for reasons even the finest psychiatrists cannot understand…read on.

In Canada, there is an organization working to decrease accidents between cars and trains, as deaths in these accidents are so prevalent. Many U.S. states with very active railroads have joined them in their endeavor. Dr. Roger Cyr, the national director of this organization, says the most difficult reason this continues is “most of the blame for these fatalities are drivers who are risk takers.”

When I read this, I couldn’t grasp it—aren’t we smarter than that? Then he went on to share why: “Studies have shown that when people hear a train whistle, their minds tell them to accelerate their speed. About 43% of the accidents occur at crossings equipped with flashing lights and bells and/or gates—all to help them not get hurt. Sadly, many drivers have the audacity to drive around or under those gates.” See what I mean—hard to digest something so…stupid! Even more mind-boggling is his summation: “in these all-too-common behaviours of risk-taking, over 90% perish.” Why take the risk against these statistics?! Hmmmm…

That brings me to my own “sin condition” in fact, we all have one, and try as we might, sin is at our core until we are whole again in heaven. Until then, what kind of risks do we take in ignoring this condition? Well, if we were honest with ourselves, we’d admit it’s probably a daily occurrence and we have become numb to even realizing it—until the bottom drops out! The Apostle James said it best in his Epistle, Chapter 1:14-15 [CEV]:

“We are tempted by our own desires
that drag us off and trap us.
Our desires make us sin and when
sin is finished with us—it leaves us dead.”

DEAD?—ouch! But James knew it all too well in his own life and how the Lord worked on his heart and mind to realize what a deep risk he was taking outside of God’s will. As he learned, James became filled with faith, integrity and went on to be a great Apostle and leader of the ‘New Way’ which we now call Christianity. I’m thankful for his obedience to the Lord.

So, why do we think we are invincible to sin’s effects? There are many answers, here are the top 3: pride, indifference, and lust. And sadly, these 3 infect both believer and non-believer, so when it comes to “sin-risk” it’s a level playing field! We humans have a propensity to charge headfirst into situations that often result in succumbing to destructive behavior and then we wonder how to wrestle with the pain, shame and repercussions from our sin. I think King Solomon said it best when he wrote: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”    

When it comes to sin, it isn’t worth it to take unnecessary risks. For me, learning how to enjoy a crazy white-water adventure with solid safety principles, correct gear, and a smart guide, made all the difference in the risk-level. When it comes to our faith, we have a choice and the best one is to guard our hearts and our often-wandering-minds against risking the trap of sin.

Going back to our youth, is it not true that one thing was always needed; behaving our parents—or those bringing us up? I learned quickly that good behavior had great rewards and little risk. We would do well to remember that practice in our grown-up years as well, don’t you think? OK, I better cancel my mountain-climbing venture—AMEN!