Using every covert technique I had learned in the Army, I cowered down low to the ground and began inching forward hoping just to get one half-step closer. There were two of them, and I hoped to get so close I could count their teeth before taking aim. I was approximately fifteen feet away as the wind caused black, featherlike stigmas in the grass to blur my vision as I looked through the sights of my weapon.
My targets did not move.
A close friend of mine – a brother – was on watch with me on that fateful day, and he feared I was getting too close. I could see him in the distance raising his arm as if to say, “That’s close enough. Take your shot and get out of there!”
But I wanted to get closer.
It was time. I raised my weapon. And fired.
“Click!” My weapon of choice that day: A NIKON d70 SLR camera. Attached to it was a 70-300mm f/4-5.6G lens that allowed me to take the closest pictures without having to get too close. But I was too close…dangerously close. I was shooting pictures of two seven-foot American Alligators, apparently male and female. And at least one of them did not want me there.
The one opened its mouth wide and began making noises while puffing himself up sending a message that this one wasn’t to be trifled with. As I crouched down, knees bent, head at my ankles and eyes through the view finder of my camera less than 10-feet away from him, he jumped toward the creek. Into the water he went with a giant splash. It all happened so quickly that in the millisecond it took me to stop looking through my camera and look up, the seven-foot giant was already coming back up on land.
What if he jumped towards me instead of away from me?
I look back on that moment of bravery and stupidity (for the perfect picture) with a “what was I thinking” mentality. My good friend, Corey Conroy, who was with me on that day, reminisces about what could have happened at least once every couple of months. He proved his friendship long ago, but afterwards, he mentioned his plan to rescue me by sacrificing his camera on the alligator’s head if it had attacked. This meant a lot to me considering he is a photographer.
I wanted that picture, and I risked a lot to get it to the point of being careless.
Counting the cost and considering what you have to gain or lose come with a Raise the Risk (RTR) mentality. Prepare yourself for every moment. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Compare and contrast the pros and cons. And if at all possible – Move forward. Advance. Charge.
I was prepared to take this picture – I had all the right gear with me and the experience to get the right shot. As you follow Christ, the Holy Spirit prepares you for what lies ahead. The Holy Spirit lives within us to get us ready for the conversation we are not prepared to have today, but will be tomorrow. He trains us for the trials we will face in the future before they even get here. But we have to be diligent. We have to be prepared. We have to get ready.
Remember, you have already been deployed for active duty if you are a follower of Christ.
Raise the Risk Challenge:
- READ Ephesians 6:10-18 and ask the Holy Spirit to help you arm yourself.
- READ 1 Peter 3:15. Anticipate questions people you know may ask you about God and your faith in Jesus. What would you say to a friend that doesn’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6)?
- REFLECT on how God has prepared you for a trial you faced in the past before it came giving you His strength to see it through.