A few weeks ago I spotted a squirrel. Nothing amazing about it, grey with a big bushy tail. It was motionless, gripping a tree trunk about 20 feet away, eying me warily. As I looked, it decided that discretion was in order so it scampered a few feet higher, and
stopped to look at me again. Too close, it thought. So a few more feet, onto a branch. And then onto a thinner one, and again. After another couple of branches it was near the tree top, onto a thin bendy twig, where it seemed to balance with difficulty. But no going back for this bushy acrobat. It stopped, unsure what to do next, looking around. Within reach was a similar appendage from an adjacent tree. So it made a leap, not taking into account the risks of launching from an unstable platform. It made a grab for the next piece of tree, missed, and proceeded to crash its way down through the foliage before hitting the ground where I lost sight of it. I couldn’t find it so I presume it scampered off, hopefully the wiser from the experience.
I mused on the sequence of events for a while, and concluded that the Christian life can and should involve taking risks. Peter took a risk when he stepped out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. Peter and John took a risk when they said to the beggar, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. Peter could have stayed in the boat, safe and dry. Peter and John could have walked past the beggar, safe from potential ridicule. The squirrel could have hidden on the opposite side of the tree trunk, safe from prying eyes. How many of us, in things spiritual, have a propensity to stay safe? Not wanting to risk the experience of leaping into the unknown and coming back to earth with a bump. But the kingdom of God is full of risk taking. It’s the way we develop our spiritual muscle, faith. Peter didn’t wake up one morning and decide that he was going to walk across the Sea of Galilee. He had observed the miracles Jesus had performed. Even participated in them. And, briefly at least, he walked by faith, faith in the Master whom he could trust. We looked at Ephesians 3:20 last Sunday, the verse where it suggests God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine through the power He has put to work within us. The challenge for all of us is to tap into that power and make it work in the situations we come across every day. Yes, we might come crashing down a few times, but by building our faith through small steps, one day we will find we can take a big leap.