As you reflect on the turbulent year of 2020 and look toward 2021, what do you hope will happen? Do you have any new year’s resolutions? Whatever the future holds, I’m sure it will involve risk. Whether you are reacting to circumstances or proactively trying to foster change, take responsible risks and not reckless ones. Act wisely, but don’t be afraid to seek adventure, connect with people, push your comfort zone, try new things, seize opportunities, or make mistakes. Andre Gide once said, “We can never discover new continents until we have the courage to lose sight of all coasts.” Without getting uncomfortable, facing fears, pushing past frustrations, or venturing into unknown territory you will miss opportunities to learn, to build your character, to help others, and to reach your potential.

We all face risks. Each of us needs to decide whether the benefit of a course of action is worth the potential cost. How do you determine what is a worthwhile and responsible risk or what is a reckless one? Some risks are trivial while others are far-reaching.

Pay close attention to the life changing risks which fundamentally impact you. Can you think of risks that have altered your journey in life? Some risks require taking charge and acting, while others require letting go, waiting, and trusting. The most significant risks involve living rightly with others and with God.

Of all the risks your greatest one pertains to your soul. It determines the quality of your life, your impact on others, and your destiny. Will you try to find a fulfilling life on your own or receive everlasting life from God? In other words, is it worth denying yourself in favor of loving, trusting, and obeying God? What is your answer to this vital question? If you don’t consider life with God worth it or you aren’t sure yet, I understand. I used to be that way. None of us choose God by default. Your self-centered nature rebels against God, defying his character and commands to forge your own way. However, although it may seem appealing for a time, that choice never leads to true life. It actually kills you by separating you from God, who is the only source of abundant, everlasting life. Instead of experiencing purpose, hope, joy, peace, love, freedom, and fulfillment now with more to come as a child in God’s eternal family, you reap the wretched results of rejecting God—a wayward life on earth and eternal torment in hell. So which is the responsible risk: living for yourself or for God?

God, who created you and loves you, has given you a second chance. It’s infinitely wiser and better to yield to God and receive his salvation, restoration, and blessings in Jesus than to remain estranged from him. Christian author, C.S. Lewis, who used to be an atheist, describes your choice, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” Missionary, Jim Elliot, who was killed trying to share God’s love and salvation with the remote Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, once wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus has so much in store for those who trust and obey him. Soon he will return to earth to establish righteousness, reward his followers, judge unbelievers, and vanquish Satan. Right now he is calling you to take the risk of living for him and not for yourself. ‟Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).