In baseball, you can’t steal second and keep your foot on first. You have to venture into ‘the zone of the unknown’ and take some risks to win the game. The same is true for a church working right: prudent risks advance His mission.
Author, Mark Batterson wrote about this. Back in 1853, America hosted its first World’s Fair in New York City. The organizers built a beautiful exhibition hall called the Crystal Palace, where the latest and greatest inventions were showcased. This is where a man named Elisha Otis pulled off one of the most remarkable stunts in the history of the World’s Fair. Otis was the inventor of the safety elevator brake, but he was having a hard time selling his idea to safety-first skeptics. Batterson continues…
Otis stood on an elevator platform hoisted high enough for everybody in the exhibition hall to see him. Then Otis, who had positioned an axman above the elevator, cued him to cut the rope! The elevator fell – a few feet. The crowd let out a collective gasp. And Elisha Otis pronounced, “All safe, ladies and gentlemen. All safe.”
Cutting the rope doesn’t seem safe. Can I tell you what’s not safe? Playing it safe! In fact, the greatest risk is taking no risks. Cutting the rope is about taking calculated risks. When Elisha Otis pulled off this unforgettable sales pitch, there were only a few buildings in New York City taller than five floors. Why? No one wanted to climb the stairs! It was next to impossible to rent top-floor real estate. Then in 1854, Otis installed an elevator in a building on Broadway, and the rest is history. By 1890, there were 10 buildings taller than ten stories. By 1900, there were 65 buildings taller than 20 stories. And by 1908, there were 538 buildings in New York City that qualified as skyscrapers.
Elisha Otis had turned the world upside down. He didn’t just invent the safety elevator brake; he made the modern skyscraper possible! At last count, New York City had 58,000 elevators. Those elevators make 11 billion trips every year. And that’s just New York City! According to the Otis Elevator Company, the equivalent of the world’s population rides on their products every three days. All because Elisha Otis had the courage to cut the rope!’
So Pastor, where do you need to cut the rope? As I used to say to my staff, “No risk it – no biscuit!” Cutting the rope is the way we cut the ribbon on the dreams God has given us! It requires risk, faith, and a ton of hard work, but the reward is so worth it because some doors only stay open for a short period of time. The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.
When you get to the end of your ministry life, you will likely not be sad about that risks you took and failed, you’ll regret the things you could have tried for God, but didn’t.