risky business

it was early november, 6 days before the big homecoming game. michelle was a freshman, i was a junior. i had been threatening to ask her out since i first learned she was coming to carolina the previous may. and since august, i had been dropping by her room to make sure she and her roommate – both of them had graduated from my high school – were settling in to college life OK. kinda like a big brother.

(yeah, right. so when you gonna ask her?)
anyway, it was a monday, right after lunch. i ran into her outside the library (my favorite place to socialize). we talked a little, and eventually i said, 
“so, you going to the game saturday?”
“probably.”
“yeah? who you going with?”
“just some girls from the dorm, i guess.”
“oh, ok. cool. i gotta find a date. it’s homecoming.”
“uh huh…”
end of conversation. i walked away. once again afraid to pull the trigger.
michelle went back to her room and vented to her roommate. 
loudly.
“do you know what that jeff gardner just did!?!?”
the deal is, she actually wanted to go out with me. but i didn’t know. i wasn’t sure. i was afraid of being rejected. i don’t do ‘no’ very well.
so i didn’t ask.
i actually called her later that afternoon, and she agreed to go to the game with me. but many, many years later, i think she still wonders what i was waiting for. 
it also took me three dates before our first kiss, and even then, she kissed me first. why? i didn’t want to mess up the relationship i was working on. in the meantime, she just got tired of waiting.
risk. 
sometimes we just avoid it like the plague. like when it comes to letting people know we love and follow Jesus. or when it comes to talking about the hope we have within us or why we serve. or when it comes to just inviting someone to church.
“what if they say no?”
“what if they reject me?”
“what if it messes up the friendship?”
let me tell you something. i don’t know who you know or who your friends are or who you wish knew Christ. but i know this: you know someone who would say yes. you know someone – who is it? – who would listen to your story. someone who actually wonders about your faith and what they see in you that is different. you know someone who would have a conversation. someone who would say yes if you invited them to come to church with you.
i know. they might say no. they might reject your invitation or conversation. and yes, it could actually mess up the friendship.
but then again, it might not. maybe it will make them eternally grateful to you for saving their eternal soul. maybe they will be thrilled that your risk provided them a place to strengthen their children, their marriage, their self-esteem. maybe you will be the one to introduce them to their savior. maybe someone you know is actually tired of waiting, wondering if you will ever ask.
willing to take that risk?
i’m glad i finally took the risk on that november afternoon. a few years later, it allowed me to stand in a church as my beautiful bride walked down the aisle to stand by my side. and that risk has led to the overwhelming joy of two children – the next generation of Jesus-followers.
you know what? your risk could add to the bride of Christ. the Bible describes all believers as one, as the beautiful bride of Jesus the groom. your risk could lead to future generations of Christ-followers, simply because you asked. because you took a risk.
so… are you up for it? if you are, i wanna be in on it, okay? so here’s my commitment to anyone and everyone reading this. if you have someone in mind and are ready to pull the trigger, send me an email and i will pray for you and for the person or family you have in mind. send me specific names – first names only are fine – and i will pray every day for both of you.
and to be honest, committing to pray like that every day is a risk on my part.
but it’s one i’m willing to take.
i have a pretty good feeling it’ll be worth it.
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