This Sunday is Pentecost. On Pentecost we mark the transforming gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the universal church. It’s also the one-year anniversary of the ministry of First 7th and my time as a part of this community. As I reflect on this year of learning and work, I know I know one thing well: I know what it feels like when the spirit pushes you to take risks.
Before First 7th, I had a great ministry that I was comfortable in and good at. My family was happy and I was fulfilled. God was present and active in my life, and blessings piled up around me. But I left because I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me in a different direction. Taking a risk to follow God doesn’t guarantee success, though. (Duh, it’s called risk for a reason.) A year ago, I felt like I could only be the person God made me to be if I accepted risk. That’s how I felt then.
So how does it feel now?
It feels like you choose over and over again.
Deciding to take the unknown, risky path is not a one-time act. Every day you have a chance to retreat, to give up, to go back to comfort and stability. You never run out of opportunities to relax, to become complacent, to settle. Just like our lives of faith involve saying yes to God over and over again, so do our lives of risk.
It feels like you truly grow.
I don’t mean that you necessarily get better or smarter or more experienced. I mean the more you live out on the edge, the more you learn about who you really are. You see yourself more clearly in the mirror. God blessed you with particular strengths and passions. God also left you lacking, forcing you to find others to complement and work alongside you. Complacency dulls those strengths and covers over those weaknesses, living with risk brings everything to the surface.
It feels like God is closer.
God is equally available and present to us at all times, but comfortable, routine lives have a way taking our focus away from the divine. In the same way that worship is the most passionate in impoverished communities and prayers are most heartfelt in times of crises, risk-taking reminds us of just how close and powerful God is.
It still feels scary.
Just like choosing to take risks is a regular occurrence, so is the fear that bubbles up when you leave the nest. I’ve decided to take that as a good sign, that it means I’m living beyond my comfort zone, that I’m trusting God more than myself. That doesn’t make it less scary, though.
Pentecost is the holiday where we celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit, the presence and the power that makes amazing things happen in our midst, in our lives, in our communities. The spirit burns like a flame, blows like a wind, hovers like a dove. I want you to be open to the Holy Spirit moving in your life, too. Open yourself to this influence, and be prepared when it pushes you to new, risky places.