You Have a Safety Net. Take the Risk.

Is This Safe?

Here was another lighthouse. This one was on the Canadian side of our border. We’d been going into several lighthouses in Maine, all interesting, all unique. Why not one more?

The East Quoddy, or Head Harbour Lightstation, was built in 1828. The light was to guide sailors safely around dangerous rocks and shoals of Campobello Island and the Maine coast.


But I had a problem with this one.

Maybe it’s a Canadian vs. American thing, but where were all the safety features I’d grown accustomed to?

  • No guard rails in the area.
  • No sturdy handrails on the staircases.
  • No clear signage warning of the dangers.

Except this one sign. And it was only warning you of getting trapped at the lighthouse if the tide came in, not about the perilous journey you’d have to take to get to the lighthouse and back.

I wanted to turn back.

extreme hazard

Is the Risk Worth It?

But, no, let’s keep going, we decided. There were three metal staircases to get from here to there (well, “staircase” is generous; they felt like rickety, rusty ladders). I climbed the first one.

The next obstacle was a series of slippery rocks. They were covered in seaweed. After surviving them, we saw the next staircase/ladder, which looked even more dangerous than the first.

We started. Then I balked.

Even if, per chance, we did make it across to the lighthouse without plunging to our deaths here in the middle of nowhere, we would still have to repeat the entire journey again to get back to the other side.

Did I really want to put myself through this, all in the name of fun?

Was the risk worth the adventure?

Are Safety Nets a Moral Hazard?

I personally like safety nets.

I want to know that:

  • If I get sick, there will be medicine for my malady.
  • If I fall, someone nearby will help me up.
  • If I fail, I’ll be loved anyway.

Because we all have stumbled. And will stumble again.

But when we know there are safety nets, are we more likely to take unnecessary risks? Do we drive faster if our seat belts are on? Do we eat fattier foods if we’re taking cholesterol medicine?

Sometimes, yes.

This has a name: Moral Hazards.

A moral hazard is taking extra risks when you feel protected from the consequences.

[Listen to this Hidden Brain podcast or read the transcript on Moral Hazards about the opioid crisis. Some studies are showing that the availability of the safety net Lazarus drug (naloxone) that reverse overdoses may unintentionally encourage heavier use of heroin and fentanyl. Some agree it’s a moral hazard; others disagree.]

Moral Hazards and Faith

But what about moral hazards and faith? It’s the apostle Paul’s argument: Do we sin more because we know there is grace to cover it (Romans 6:1)? His answer is an adamant no.

I’d rather use my safety net of grace another way. Instead of sinning more, what if we used our safety net to love more?

  • When I’m tempted to back out of an encounter from fear of rejection, I can remember my safety net that Christ won’t abandon me.
    And take the risk of engagement.
  • When I’m scared to serve in a new ministry, I can remember that Christ will show up with me.
    And take the risk of uncertainty.
  • When I don’t want to forgive yet one more time, I can remember that my heart is protected in Christ.
    And take the risk of vulnerability.

When we remember our safety nets, we can take more risks in the name of love.

We’ll still get hurt, have pains, make mistakes, and eventually die from something. But in Christ, those things are only temporary. Even death.

In Christ, life (and death) are safer than they look.

Even the Risk of No

I stopped midstep on the second ladder. I wanted to cry. I told Jeff I didn’t want to go forward anymore. I wanted to return to firm, dry land and forget this lighthouse. I would look from a distance instead of up close.

He could go on, but I was going back.

I had mentally weighed the odds. The lighthouse wasn’t worth the risk.

I took the risk of saying no.

Because he’s been married to me for over 25 years, Jeff understood. He turned around with me. We made it back to the car.

I hadn’t said yes to the adventure.

But sometimes saying no is an adventure, too. It’s a risk in its own way. It is saying yes to grace.

I trusted that the trip would still be a success—and Jeff wouldn’t resent it—even if I failed to go up this one lighthouse.

Life isn’t about perfection. It’s about love. It’s covered in grace.

And I felt loved by a man who would turn back with me instead of forcing me ahead.

Life may be risky. But love is the ultimate safety net. I’m secure there.

You have a safety net

* * *

Do you take more risks when you have insurance? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


41 thoughts on “You Have a Safety Net. Take the Risk.

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Wow! What a great illustration and principle you have taught through this post, Lisa! You’ve given me a lot to think about regarding risks.

    I am much like you generally. I don’t like to take risks unless there is a safety net. Sometimes the cost is too much.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I often remember the cost I paid (a broken arm!) for wanting to pull the sled for a few minutes after an ice storm. The cost was definitely too much. I know we can’t always accurately assess the risks, but when I can, I do. 🙂

  2. Martha J Orlando

    This is such a compelling reflection on taking risks, and sometimes our answer needs to be, “NO.” Like you, Lisa, I would have balked at visiting the lighthouse; just the image of being stranded for eight hours if the tide was misjudged was enough for me.
    And in answer to your question, I’m more willing to take a risk if there is a safety net in place. The love of Jesus can provide that safety net in a myriad of ways as we go through life, and for that, I’m so grateful.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I love that myriad of ways that Jesus provides a safety net for us. Even when “bad” things happen, he is still our safety net, walking alongside us through the hard parts. Blessings to you too, Martha.

  3. Barbara Harper

    You’re braver than I am for going as far as you did! I like my safety nets, too.

    I understand about moral hazards. I am not diabetic, but when my blood sugar was consistently a little too high, my doctor suggested taking a blood sugar medicine. Instead of thinking of this as a major warning sign, my first thought was, “Now I have wiggle room!” Sigh. I am working on cutting down sugar and hope to be off this med soon.

    Love the application to spiritual safety nets. I can’t see them physically, but by faith I know they are there.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ah, that wiggle room. It can often get us in trouble in a variety of ways. Good luck in cutting down on sugar. I have been trying to eat less sugar this summer, and it is a hard order.

      Love this: “I can’t see them physically, but by faith I know they are there.” Amen.

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Wonderful post, Lisa (frankly, as always)!!! I didn’t know where you were going w/ this, or where the Lord was leading you. I love how you took us on a spiritual adventure, as well, and the application to Christ being our safety net. That is such an important lesson. In Him, we can take spiritual risks, especially in knowing that Jesus, our Net, already took the risk of laying down His life for us. If we risk our souls in Him, we realize we will not plummet to our eternal death. He is the Net and Rock upon which we can rest secure, in this life and the next. I had a slightly different take on this, and I think the whole point of our adventure in Christ is to walk wherever *He* leads us, individually. For me, it was following Him to the remote Isle of Iona, and climbing to its summit (and back down again). Frankly, if I had known how risky it was, I would likely have never gone. I was terrified enough as it was, just going to the UK alone, afraid of terrorists whether abroad or in airports, and on and on. It would take me hours to write out all my fears for you. But Christ assured me He was my net (He impressed upon me, personally, that He was my Good Shepherd and would keep me safe). When I began to climb to the top of Iona’s summit w/ a group of women in a light rain, I presumed there would be ropes, walkways, *something.* But no, nothing to which to grip. I could have easily plummeted to my death a number of times, except that I knew the Lord had brought me here, and I was safe in HIS grip. So the point I make here is not to contradict what God was showing you or to say that my experience was trusting the Lord more than yours was. Hardly. I was a basket case up until that climb. But God had great lessons to teach me about trust and how He was helping me, personally, to overcome my lifelong fears. In your case and mine, Jesus was the Net, and He was more than enough. Thank you soooo much for sharing (and if I have never sent you what I wrote about my journey, let me know, and I’ll send it to you, if you wish).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, you did send me your Christmas newsletter with the story in it of the Isle of Iona. It made an impression on me; I haven’t forgotten it! I love that you share this story again here, Lynn. It’s very applicable. We need to see all sides of an issue, so your comment is appropriate; no contradictions. You inspire me, friend!

  5. Lesley

    I loved reading about your lighthouse adventure, and the link you make is perfect! Very timely too as I have a rather daunting and potentially risky conversation coming up this week. It definitely helps in times like these to remember that Jesus is our safety net and he won’t abandon us however things turn out.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Praying for your conversation this week, Lesley. Sometimes those risks are more frightening than rickety ladders. 🙂 May the Lord make you very aware of the safety net that he keeps underneath you in every relationship!

  6. bill (cycleguy)

    Fantastic post Lisa! I applaud you for being willing to say No. I think sometimes there is a fine line between foolishness and adventuresome. And sometimes the smartest thing to do is to turn around and say, “Nope. Not today.” Okay…not ever. Your take on moral guidelines is similar Those guidelines were put there by a loving God who knows our best and to protect us. We would do wise to heed.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your affirmation, Bill. Sometimes my wimpy nature rules the day. 🙂 My line between foolishness and adventuresome is probably too far skewed toward judgments of foolish, but I do try to push past my comfort zone when it doesn’t seem too crazy. But that day at the lighthouse, it seemed crazy to me.

  7. Michele Morin

    Felt my stomach lurch as I read this one, Lisa! I’m no fan of slippery rocks, rickety ladders, OR incoming tides! (Especially that third one!)
    At the same time, I grateful for God’s safety net of grace, and don’t want to abuse it, while knowing all the time that it catches me every single day.

  8. Karen Friday

    What a powerful analogy, Lisa. My mother-in-law adores lighthouses. But, I want you to know, I was hoping as I read your story that you turned back. I’m not a big risk taker, and I am simliar in mindset to you. This particular risk was not worth taking. There were just too many variables and chances you would have had to take. On the spiritual side of this article, I agree. Spiritual risks are worth taking in Christ. Especially to love more.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So we sound very similar, Karen. 🙂 I do try to push myself when I get scared, but there are times when I just have to say no, and this was one of those times. (Other times have been on snowy, mountainous roads when were just sightseeing–definitely not worth the risk–turn around! lol) I often have to push myself with spiritual risks, too, but I love knowing that Christ is our safety net.

  9. Rebecca Hastings

    There is so much risk when we are living this life following Jesus.

    I try to avoid the risk, but then I find myself feeling like something is missing. I’m learning to take risks for Him: go first, invite someone, keep the commitment. I know those are small, but some days they can feel huge!

    And I adore Maine! I’m in Connecticut so it’s not all that far — I definitely need to get back there soon! I would love to check out that lighthouse (risk and all!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good point that we can feel something is missing when we avoid too many risks. We weren’t made to stay in our comfort zones all the time. Thanks, Rebecca.

      We never made it into Connecticut on our trip on north, but maybe one day we’ll return and visit all these lovely states. The terrain was so beautiful!

  10. Patsy Burnette

    I love your application here Lisa. I enjoy when someone can see the spiritual in the everyday. It says a lot about your mindset. I think in the good old USA we have over-protected ourselves and our children. Maybe we do the same to some extent in the spiritual realm as well.


    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I agree with you, Patsy. We are likely overprotective here in the U.S. in so many areas. Sometimes I think we have it so good that we use self-protection as a crutch (speaking for myself!). Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Maree Dee

    Lisa –
    Wow, I have lots to ponder after reading your post. I think I am all over the map when it comes to risks. Yes, I probably would have gone on and I have to wonder if I were you husband would be I so gracious. I tend to push. A lesson to be learned there too for me.

    I am a rule follower, though. So if the sign said, “Don’t go I would never take the risk.” But I have to wonder do I make my own rules sometimes and it holds me back. I felt prompted to give a person a hug at church. But then I weighed in and it thought it too risky. They hardly know me and it would be weird.

    I completely believe in God’s prompting and I missed the cue. I could have taken the risk and loved. If I failed it would really matter because I have a great safety net in God.

    Thank you for your wonderful words.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know a lot of people wouldn’t have been as gracious as my husband. 🙂 So I am truly thankful for him. Sometimes I encourage him to push me further, but I didn’t that day. lol. I relate to your missed opportunity, and pray that God will give you another opportunity soon! I’m grateful that he gives us opportunities again and again to get things right.

  12. nylse

    I learned about the role of lighthouses from reading this. I may be risk-averse and learning to push myself daily. But Jesus my lighthouse never felt like a risk; it felt lie safety. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We learned a lot about lighthouses on that trip. I knew nothing before we started, but I wanted our trip to be a spiritual adventure of growth as we set out on it prior to having our first grandchild. I knew our lives were about to change forever, and they indeed have! Blessings to you, Nylse.

  13. BettieG

    Such a beautiful post and lesson you have offered here! I love this thought: “Instead of sinning more, what if we used our safety net to love more?” It reminds me of how He has been speaking to me lately that He is my only safe boundary. I get it all mixed up, but He knows how to sort out what I cannot. His love goes so much deeper. And, how sweet of your husband to understand and turn around with you! He is a safety-net-keeper for you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “He is my only safe boundary.” So true, Bettie. I sometimes wish his boundaries were more clear than they are, but if I would just stay with the boundaries I already know to be true, all would be well. 🙂

  14. Beth Steffaniak

    This really spoke to me, Lisa, because I’m in something of a risky situation right now too. And I’d really like to say no to it but the battle continues on. Still, I’m trusting that God will protect me in the yes and the no of life–a lot better than this lighthouse and its caretaker protect the people who visit here! Lol! I do love lighthouses, but I would be with you on this one and I’m so glad your husband was too! Pinning!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That analogy of cliff to curb is an amazing one; thanks for sharing that, Sue! I hope I’ll remember it. I have a fear of heights so I really, really hate cliffs. 🙂 But curbs I can handle.

  15. Shannon

    What a great lesson from a somewhat scary experience! I’m not a fan of risks; I like to be where I know I’m safe (both physically and emotionally). The verses you’ve shared and your thoughts are challenging. There is definitely a time and place for taking risks!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like to be safe too (in every way!). 🙂 So I know where you’re coming from, Shannon. But you’re so right that there is a time and place for risks. I pray for wisdom to know when, how, and to have the courage to act.

  16. Jeanne Takenaka

    Oh, Lisa. I love this post. Safety nets. And the way you shared about Jesus being a safety net so we can love more? I never thought about Him in that way. I don’t tend to be a risk-taker in general. But, if I know there’s something to keep me safe (i.e. doing a ropes course thirty feet off the ground), I’m comfortable saying yes to that adventure. Driving narrow mountain roads with no guard rails? That has my nails biting into my palms for the fear of it. That isn’t an adventure I willingly embark upon.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve been a passenger with my eyes tightly closed many a time on those narrow mountain roads, Jeanne. I absolutely hate those. I wish I were a little more adventurous. Doing a ropes course 30 feet off the ground, even with nets, sounds pretty terrifying to me. 🙂 But I do occasionally venture out into the “scary” things (like, going up the St. Louis Arch, ha). I want to remember every day that Jesus is my safety net, not necessarily to keep me sheltered from all harm, but to keep me safe in spiritual places as much as I’ll allow him to.

  17. Mary Geisen

    This is beautiful. I am the type of person because of my planner personality who also relies on safety nets. If I remember who I am and how God is everything I need, I shouldn’t spend so much time worrying about safety nets.

    I will say that I would not have proceeded to the lighthouse after hearing your description of the path to get there. Thanks for such wise words.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mary. You hit on a key point: remembering who we are and that God is everything we need. Amen, sister! That would save us a boatload of worry if we could keep that truth front and center in every situation.

  18. floyd samons

    Great analogy and thought engaging post. It’s good to ponder from a different perspective.

    And good for you for following your instincts. Physical challenges are the easiest. Spiritual ones, as you referred to, are the hardest and mean the most.

    Jeff’s a good one… but you already know that!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’m thankful that Jeff is quite a good one. God outdid himself with connecting me with Jeff. 🙂 Jeff is patient with my fears while continuing to be an encouragement to me. I can take on a wee bit more challenges when he is by my side.

      I love your point that spiritual challenges are the ones that mean the most. Truth! Thanks, Floyd.

  19. Pingback: Will You Take the Risk and Love More? - Grace & Truth Link-Up | Embracing the Unexpected

  20. Rebecca Jones

    I think I took risk early on and stepping out of faith because I hated see fear just cripple people lives, since then though I have learned caution, wisdom, and His rest, we can lean on Him and He catches us when fall, I just watched a documentary, and enjoy an interview with an aerialist. I had the feeling I needed to let go, if Jesus isn’t the guy on the trapeze, He certainly is the net, maybe, both. I like lighthouses too, that one was rickety.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your analogy with the guy on the trapeze, Rebecca. Jesus has us covered, whether we walk across or when we fall. I’ve definitely seen fear cripple people’s lives as well, and have to fight against it to keep it from crippling mine.

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