Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Out on a Limb - Rose McCormick Brandon

 An 84 year-old woman went skydiving to celebrate her birthday. Another octogenarian, bungee jumped off a bridge to mark his 85th. . These two defied gravity and the ancient voices of their mothers telling them to keep both feet on the ground. They did it to satisfy their youthful desire for adventure. People, who defy their fears and survive to do a follow-up interview, report these experiences as thrilling and liberating. But risk-taking isn’t limited to physical adventure.

One of my acts of bravery began when an article outlined itself in my brain. I had a resume of only two published credits, one in my Bible college yearbook and the other in a writing contest. I put the piece to paper and mailed it to the editor of a faith-based magazine. After dropping the submission in the mailbox, I tortured myself with images of the editor exclaiming, “I’ve never read such rubbish!” A few weeks later, a letter arrived from the magazine saying he intended to publish my work. “Do send more articles on any subject,” he added. My writer’s heart did a joyful leap. I hadn’t parachuted from a tall building onto a trampoline but I’d crawled out on a tiny limb of possibility and – gasp – it held.

 By casting my words on uncertain waters, I’d risked rejection, a thread no one wants to weave into the fabric of their lives. The alternative was to suppress the desire to write, a desire that felt like it came from God. But I wasn’t 100% positive. I had to knock on the publishing door to find out. Fear of rejection can make us dumb when we should speak and glue us to the floor when we should go. This fear whispers negative comments like - you’ll make a fool of yourself, surely others more talented, more connected and more prepared than you should write these articles. If I’d heeded these messages, I would’ve remained chained to my security blanket.

  The need for security is rooted in human nature. We see its influence in the way some responded to Jesus’ call to follow Him. They marveled at His words, recognized His divine authority but when know-it-all Pharisees accused them of being swept off their feet with lies and threatened to excommunicate them; they distanced themselves from Jesus (John 7:45-53). If we step out of our comfort zones criticism will come, and often from unexpected places. People may misunderstand our motives. They may not see value in our goals or they may simply not get us. It’s alright to shed a few tears over rejection because it’s painful but it’s not alright to let a strong need for security dictate our futures.

 The other basic need rooted in our natures is for significance, a sense that our contribution to the big picture matters. If we stay wrapped in our security blankets we invite boredom. Taking risks for worthy reasons add exhilaration to life, much like jumping out of a plane. 

Our relationship with Jesus is meant to fill our need for significance. When it doesn’t we run after other things, searching for something that gives our lives purpose. Or we strive to become the person we believe others want us to be. Both responses lead to what Chandler calls lesser aspirations.

 Many God-called people let God-given ideas lie dormant because they fear rejection. Like those who almost followed Jesus, they retreat to their comfort zones and choose man’s favour over God’s. Daniel tells us that the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). That doesn’t mean becoming famous and it doesn’t require being the best at what we do, it simply means having the courage to take on the tasks God gives us. That’s how we grow into the people God intends us to become.  

 God is the ultimate story-teller. He’s writing a story in each person’s life. Our pages hum with joy, grief, pain and pleasure but no novel is complete without adventure. The adventure chapters in our stories chronicle the times we’ve chosen significance over security, the times we’ve knocked on strangers’ doors, uncertain whether we’d even come to right address. In her book Conquering Insecurity, Deborah Smith Pegues writes, “There is a passion, a fire that refuses to be quenched when you lock into God’s plan for your life.” (2) For many submitting an article to an editor who may reject it isn’t risky – for me it was and sometimes still is.

I haven’t sky-dived or bungee-jumped (yet) but I suspect taking the plunge helps participants to face challenges in other areas of life. The bottom line for Christ-followers is this: if we don’t risk following wherever He leads, we’ll never know the joy of crawling out on a limb and finding ourselves exactly where God wants us to be. 

Rose McCormick Brandon is a frequent contributor to faith magazines, devotionals and compilations, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose writes, edits and compiles stories of British Home Children at The Promise of Home. She writes on enjoying God and His creation at Listening to My Hair Grow.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you Rose, for sharing these encouraging anecdotes and inspiring insights from your experience. I'm sure they are helpful, not only to those of us who engage in creative writing, but also to anyone whose desire is to grow in active faith as a follower of Christ. ~~+~~

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