The second letter in Seth Godin’s ABC book. The letter “B” is for “birl.” “Birl that log. Find your balance by losing it.” Birl is defined – To cause a floating log to spin rapidly by rotating with the feet. My in-laws have been vacationing in Hayward for some 40 years now and I have accompanied them on numerous trips. One of Hayward’s claims to fame is the World Lumberjack Championship. Log-rolling or birling is big up there. One of the camp grounds we stayed at had a log in the shallow part of a lake that you could try to birl on. This was not a professional birling log, this was an old log, covered with algae – super slippery to even try to sit on it, forget about spin it with your feet. I was never able to stay up on it for more than a few seconds. Maybe one day I can take some birling lessons up in Hayward. That would make a good Facebook video post.
Seth Godin admonishes us to find our balance by losing it. That implies, intentionally putting yourself in situations that put you out of balance – read uncomfortable, difficult, risky situations. How many of us intentionally do that occasionally? On a regular basis? How about those of us over 30? Over 40? Over 50?
I have been leading kids/students in a church context for 20+ years now and have been around a bunch of kids/students for longer than that. I give the kids/students opportunities to pray out loud as often as I can. You can learn not only about the faith of the kids, but of the faith of their parents by hearing what the kids pray about. 98% of the time the main focus of the prayer is centered around being safe. “Help us to be safe.” “Help my mom and dad to be safe.” “Help everyone in the world to be safe.” “Keep us safe on our vacation.” “Keep us safe at school.” “Help mom and dad to be safe at work tomorrow.”
Where do they that get that from? Parents? Church/Sunday School leaders? Other people they hear praying? We have an obsession with being safe, especially here in America, especially where I live in the collar-county burbs. Gary Haugen from IJM had this to say about followers of Jesus and being safe, “Jesus did not come to make us safe. He came to make us brave.” How often do we pray to be brave instead of safe? How often do our kids, our spouse, our close family and friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances see us put ourselves in situations requiring bravery on a regular basis? Intentionally place ourselves in difficult, uncomfortable situations, for the primary benefit of others rather than ourselves?
What are we willing to risk for our faith? For the sake of others? I have friends that have intentionally re-located to dangerous urban areas for the sake of spreading God’s love; friends who have intentionally re-located to hostile parts of the world to spread God’s love; friends starting neighborhood groups, starting churches in bars, coffee houses, their homes; friends who quit a good job to start a church, or to start a business that affords them the opportunity to influence those in need of jobs, training, hope; friends who have come from other countries to re-locate here, with nothing but a few suitcases, for the sake of sharing their experiences of following Jesus with us here in America.
We as collar county, suburban followers of Jesus need to step up our game, and put ourselves in difficult situations for a greater good on a far more frequent basis. Jesus wants us to take risks – not to be reckless – but to take risks. Sometimes the risks seem small, like reaching out to introduce yourself to someone; sometimes they are mundane and routine, like a single mom getting out of bed at 4AM every day and working two jobs to support her children; sometimes they are grandiose and sometimes they are humble – and no one else will know except you and God. Jesus came to make us brave, not safe. Let’s live our lives so people who know us well can honestly say that we live our lives bravely, and put ourselves in situations regularly where we will risk losing our balance.