“I want you to know how safe and secure you are in My Presence. That is a fact, totally independent of your feelings.”
– Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, p. 146
Ever wonder how some people face mole hills with a constant state of drama, while others face mountains with a peace that passes understanding? What makes the difference… and more importantly, how can we become those people of deep peace?
The Concept of “Perceived Risk”
I learned some great life lessons while working as a Challenge Course facilitator. One of the greatest (and most entertaining) lessons I learned was on the high ropes course. It involves the concept of “perceived risk.”
Perhaps you’ve seen such a course, where people climb rope ladders and navigate plank bridges or cable crossings dozens of feet in the air. They arrive back to Terra Firma via a zip line or some other jaw-dropping, adrenaline-boosting device, feeling as though they’ve cheated death.
It can be terrifying to walk a plank no bigger than a picnic bench while suspend 30 feet in the air. But at some level, everyone has to know we’re not going to let people get hurt… don’t they?
It’s all about perceived risk. Each participant is allowed to feel as though a fall were possible, but in reality, they are harnessed into a self-belaying system just out of sight above their heads. In the sheer terror of the moment, it’s easy for them to forget about the harness they’re wearing and the sliding carabiners that dangle above their heads, attached to a steel cable that would literally hold a Volkswagen bus… or two!
Though participants think that certain death is imminent if they should slip, the reality is they would drop about 18 inches and be suspended by a double-secure safety device. Truth be told, it’s more dangerous walking from the parking lot than it is to be 30 feet in the air on the course!
The Reactions to Perceived Risk
What fascinated me was the reactions. There tended to be 3 categories of reaction:
- Sheer Terror – if they weren’t tree huggers before, they were up top! They would literally not let go of the starting point. Some exhibited physical symptoms (shaking, nausea) and some displayed verbal symptoms (let’s just say I learned a few new words!).
- Foolhardy souls – they got the concept of safety harness, but failed in common sense. Some would run the length of the plank recklessly, forgetting that the purpose of the safety device was to prevent falls… not injuries. A couple of gashes, cuts, and the occasional cable splinter (OUCH!) reminded everyone that the safety device prevented falls, not injuries due to foolhardiness!
- Enjoying the view – these folks were aware of the height, but they were also aware of the constant presence of their safety gear. These were the ones who still got an adrenaline rush, but were able to stop and enjoy the view along the way, knowing they were ultimately secure in their risky journey.
I think Sarah Young describes type 3 today’s devotional. Look at the last two lines:
“It is through awareness of My Presence that Peace displaces negative feelings. Practice the discipline of walking consciously with Me through each day.”
Life says, “You’re out on a limb… you’re going down.” God says, “I’ve got you!”
How much adventure do we miss out on because we forget about God’s constant presence? Sure, it’s scary, but with the God of eternity, it’s ultimately just “perceived risk.” God doesn’t just say, “I’ve got you.” God says, “I’ve got you… forever. And nothing… nothing… can take you away from me.”
God’s got you! Look up and be reminded.
Then look around… and enjoy the view… and be that person of deep peace!
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Is 43:2–3 NLT)