Monday, May 15, 2017

Reducing Your Risks in Life

            EVERY PLACE I travel, the Lord speaks to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten to the age and stage of life where I’m searching for and expecting it. I'm listening. He speaks to me in nature, in people, and in sights, smells, and sounds. And He did so again on my recent trip to Savannah, Georgia.

              The weekend of May 4-7, I gathered with eleven other Guideposts Magazine writers and four of their editors to tear apart and reassemble stories we’d written for one of the Guideposts publications—Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Mysterious Ways, and their new publication All Creatures. It was a packed weekend of meeting new people—with hearts to tell God’s stories—making new friends, and a crash course in historic Old Savannah. Staying right on the Savannah River, in what was once a cotton warehouse, helped transport me into the antebellum era-meets-modern-amenities city. If I closed one eye I could almost see the antebellum Southern dames strolling the cobblestone and brick-lain streets with their handsome, chivalrous beaus.

            When you’re a writer, you look for even the smallest clues and events that might give you a story, a reason to write. (Sometimes we look for a story where there is none, but that’s another topic.) And I went looking.
            Not only did God answer my prayers as He spoke to me through the amazing lives and testimonies of the women writers I gathered with; He spoke to me through a sign—a black and yellow metal warning sign posted on a brick wall. Not the likeliest place to hear from God. I found it one day while I was out strolling around the waterfront.

           Let's zoom in closer to the sign on this brick wall.

            What do you think I did when I came across these? Turn around and take a different route? HA! I couldn’t resist. I strolled over to the several-hundred-year-old steps, looked them over, decided they looked navigable, and definitely too attractive to avoid. I gingerly placed my foot on the first one. Seemed sturdy enough, so I ventured forward and upward.
            I was immediately struck by how steep they were, the rise being pretty high and the tread being very narrow in depth. My thigh muscle actually complained as I lifted myself to the first level, and I’ve got pretty conditioned thigh muscles. A couple of thoughts that ran through my mind while I climbed were: They must have had pretty tiny feet back then; and How did they walk up and down these steps wearing those voluminous skirts!? 
            But those thoughts were incidental to the first thought I had when I encountered the sign: How very like life those steps and that sign are. Not the HISTORIC part. The USE AT YOUR OWN RISK part.
            So many things in life should have USE—or DO—AT YOUR OWN RISK signs plastered on them. Scripture is full of things we should bypass at all costs. God has already laid out a nice instruction manual for us to use to avoid or reduce trouble and heartache. If we have good parents, they reinforce those truths, and if we’re smart children, we pay attention to them and follow them. God has also instilled in us a sense of right and wrong; we know when we’re throwing good judgment and behavior to the wind and taking unnecessary risks that might injure or damage our lives.
            God provides us with ways out. He even tells us in Scripture that He does. With those stairs, just to be safe, I could have turned around and taken a different route up to the main street. I could have avoided them altogether. But they were so alluring, so enticing. It was as though they beckoned me, as so many harmful things in life do.

            And such is the same with life. Taking unnecessary risks. Not fleeing lusts, enticements, or worldly pleasures. Not putting my spiritual armor on everyday and then leaving myself vulnerable to attacks that make me cave in. Deliberately putting myself in a situation that could compromise my good character or end up making life unnecessarily difficult for me.

            Daily, and sometimes hourly, we are confronted with choices. And in order to make the best ones, we need to:

1. Be saturated in God’s word. Know what it says and don’t do anything that contradicts it, no matter how enticing it is.

2. Be prayed up. Go away someplace to be alone with God. Pray for His wisdom and discernment to guide you. Be sensitive to the leading of His Holy Spirit, who will never mislead you.

3. Spend a lot less time listening to the world and its wisdom. Turn it off and shut it down. Raise a hedge of protection around yourself. That way you reduce the harm that can come to you, while also reducing the harm that you might bring to someone else. It will also abate the harm you might bring to yourself.

            If you do all of these things daily, you’ll scale down the risk you encounter.
            And you’ll enjoy a lot more peace in your life!

            I couldn’t resist showing you some of the sites I encountered in Savannah. Enjoy!

On the last picture, I'll let you guess which one's me!  

Until next week!

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Andrea A Owan and Google Images