Extreme Risk Takers


We are a generation of thrill seekers. For fun, we like living on the edge. We pursue adventure through risk. We like our recreation dangerous and our sports extreme.

As for me, I laugh at danger—as long as it’s from a safe distance. Countless times I’ve stared death in the face—through a pair of high powered binoculars.

I mean, I’m all for daring adventure as long as it’s reasonable. I would like to scale Mount Everest someday—if they build a staircase with a handrail. Bungee jumping sounds like fun—if they would just let me down slowly. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m afraid of heights. I’m just uncomfortable with the idea of falling from them.

When it comes to risky, edgy experiences, I’m a lot like Walter Mitty. I have an active imagination, but I’ve never actually done anything “noteworthy or mentionable.”

Well, that’s not entirely true.

I have gone to a place where many of the bravest men dare not go. The very thought of this place is terrifying. Nowhere else do we feel more threatened. Most of us never make the journey to this destination because we’re convinced that we won’t survive the trip.

Not only have I lived to tell about my terrifying adventures in that dangerous place, but I plan to go back. The rewards are worth the risk.

If we are to claim the gospel treasures of personal connection, relational intimacy, deep soul healing, and spiritual growth, we must be willing to go to that place called Vulnerability. For those of us who’ve never been there before, the place is easy to recognize because it’s a large clearing. There is no cover. Our souls are completely exposed, laid bare for all to see.

We must allow ourselves to be seen if we are ever to be known. In order to receive the healing love of the Redeemer, we must stop hiding in the protective cover of our false selves and come out into the open. The enemy tells us if we ever dare to go to that place we’ll never make it out alive.

The truth is, transparent spiritual community is where real life is found. The Spirit inhabits our “shared brokenness” and ministers to us the restorative healing our hearts so desperately need.

My first experience of spiritual vulnerability felt like being pushed out of an airplane without a parachute. Since then, every time I make that trip I feel some trepidation.

But if we are to become fully alive we must become part of a community of extreme risk takers who invite the Spirit to take us on the dangerous journey that leads to our reward.

In your life, how has extreme risk-taking led to reward?


6 thoughts on “Extreme Risk Takers

  1. Facing spiritual vulnerability is very brave, and I am in awe. Especially in a community…it’s not something I could do.

    I always get a laugh out of the current crop of extreme risk takers. Their risks are heavily calculated and padded. The chances of getting killed while bungee jumping are lower than the risk taken by driving to the site…and that’s the same with skydiving.

    Really risking life for the sake of the thrill, for the ‘spice’ it will add to life, is stupid. A death incurred that way is a waste.

    There has to be a sense of mission, of purpose. Risk it all for a higher cause and one has paid the admission to a perspective-changing experience.

    I have been there, and the changes are both good and not so good. It does burn off the dross of daily life, but you find that you’ve nowhere to ‘go’ with it. The rest of society really doesn’t get it, and you feel like you;ve got one foot in another world. The old paradigms of value no longer work, but you can’t deploy the new ones – except in your own heart.

    In your own heart – that makes it worthwhile, but the price in the currency of a special kind of loneliness can be hard to pay.

    • Your insightful analysis has unmasked modern, popular thrill seeking as a kind of pseudo-risk taking. Well said.
      And thanks for making me feel courageous for driving my car 🙂
      You also make a great point that life-and-death risk talking apart from purpose and mission is misguided. Real risk taking as an act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others is an expression of love.
      You remind me also that transparency is beneficial in the context of SAFE community. Sometimes a safe context is a group of people who have suffered the same kind of trauma as we have. Only they can understand.
      Thank you, Andrew. You always make me think more deeply.

  2. Great post, Dave. You’re right. Taking off our false selves can be downright scary. But, the benefits that come from vulnerability are so much greater and deeper than we know before we do this. Fear of being found wanting, of not being “enough” sometimes prevents me from being willing to risk and let others see who I really am.

    I’m learning to do this. To be transparent with others. To know that sometimes I’m going to blow it, but it’ll be okay. Yeah, that’s scary stuff. God has gifted me with some friends who make it safe to be real with them, with my warts and all. In trusting them with who I am, some of the greatest rewards have come from being accepted by them, embraced by them, and in turn having the opportunity to pour into them as they pour into me.

    • Jeanne, you bring up a great point that the context for transparency and vulnerability is SAFE community. You are blessed to have found a community in which you know you are safe being real. You are so right. It is a gift.
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply!

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