Let me tell you a story of a girl (me) who chased a lion.
I was a shy, insecure fifth grader at a small private school and was afraid of trying new things, fearing both failure and inadequacy.
But one day I courageously chose to put my fears aside and join the softball team.
Well, I wasn't very good. The greatest achievement I earned was making it to first base.
I thought my last softball game would be the one where I would literally hit the ball out of the park. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to play.
During the pre-game warm-up, I found myself on the ground with a beating headache and opening my eyes to teammates, the coach and my mom standing over me telling me to get up. Apparently, I had blacked out after the star pitcher overthrew the ball to her partner, and it went straight to my head.
"This sport is not for me anymore," I told myself while walking away from the humiliation.
The next morning, I woke up to find a scab on my face that made me comparable to Frankenstein, quite the embarrassment for an awkward 11-year-old.
You might think I would have felt utterly defeated and discouraged from ever playing sports again. I was a poor batter, a lousy catcher, a slow runner, and it made my face look repulsive during some important formative years.
But taking the risk of playing a sport for the first time taught me that while softball wasn't my knack, I actually enjoyed the challenge that came along with sport competition, and I later became a volleyball-nut and tennis state champ.
Since then, my life has been a series of adventure-taking. From choosing a college where I didn't know a single person, to living in the Middle East one summer and South Africa one semester, I've accepted some opportunities to take risk and haven't regretted a single one.
But there have also been times that I've cowered away from taking risk, in fear of inadequacy and failure, and many of those risks I've regretted not taking.
Now, you're probably asking yourself, "What does any of that have to do with a lion?!"
If you've never read "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson, I highly recommend picking it up some time.
It focuses on the story found in 2 Samuel 23:20-23 about a courageous man named Benaiah who chased and killed a lion, despite the snowy and slippery ground. He overcame a seemingly impossible task simply because he was willing to follow God's lead in taking a risk.
Not to mention the Bible also records he killed two of Moab's mightiest warriors and a huge Egyptian.
The question for you and me is:
When the lion (opportunity for risk) comes, what will we do? Will we run in fear or will we chase it?
In his book, Batterson made this profound remark that helps me consider what choice to make when I'm confronted with an opportunity to take risk:
"As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I've learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all."
My decision to play softball shaped who I later became as an athlete. My choice to attend college away from home strengthened my independence. And my acceptance of God's call to serve in Africa for five months gave me a greater worldview and a heart for missions.
What is your lion? Maybe it's transitioning to a new job, moving to another city, going on a mission trip or any other imaginable risky opportunity.
The next time a lion* comes, instead of running away, try chasing it. You just might kill it.
*Disclaimer: These particular lions are figurative of opportunities for risk. I don't recommend chasing real, live lions.