Two Words that can Keep You from Experiencing Life!

Calculated risk. Exhilarating joy!

I’m back after a week of vacation trying to keep up with six grandchildren with the stamina of a herd of energizer bunnies.  I returned with compelling evidence that I am fully alive.

1. I have bruises from head to toe

2. My body aches all over.

I water skied until I literally dropped.  I dived into the water from fifteen feet and came back up again.  I raced my grandchildren swimming across the bay and lost. I flopped like a wounded dolphin trying to get up on a knee board and finally succeeded. Then I hit the big wave.

Children do all the above without even breathing hard and they don’t have to hire a fork lift to get them out of bed the next morning.

Life to the fullest

But, I relish every bruise and sore muscle.  After a week of playing like a child, I feel younger.

One of the highlights of the week was the fifteen foot dive.  Don’t laugh.  Fifteen feet doesn’t sound like much until you are standing on a ledge looking down at the water.  If there is ever a time the mind turns negative, this is it.

What if there is a submarine just beneath the surface?
What if lightning hits the water just as I go in?
What if I never come up?
What if Jesus returns while I am under water?
What if the lake is filled with rogue killer carp?

That’s right. “What if” are the two words that can stand between you, adventure, success, relationships, and many other opportunities life may offer.

It seems like the default setting of my brain is to mull over the negative “what if”  possibilities and then step down from the platform and miss life. After a half hour of taunting, and prompting from my family, I came to my senses.  I realized that except for the killer carp scenario, the risk of diving was minimal almost to the extent of being nonexistent.

I took a deep breath and dived.  In that moment all the negative thoughts were drowned (pun intended) out by a piercing scream of terror. It was over in a second and I popped to the surface hearing the cheers of my grandchildren and family.  It was exhilarating.  I could hardly wait to do it again – and again – and again.

Living Fully Alive is a process of taking calculated risks that lead to adventure. I’m not suggesting you take foolish risks like jumping in front of a bus or cutting in line at Cracker Barrel.  Weight the options, check for submarines, but don’t let unrealistic “What ifs” steal the joy from your life.

Have “What ifs” ever kept you from trying?  Have you ever moved beyond them?  What did you discover?

NOTE!  No old people were harmed in the making of this post!

Moment of Truth! No more "What Ifs!"



  1. “What if” is still in my vocabulary, but, now that phrase is followed by “I don’t do it?” What will I tell God when he asks, “Did you embrace every challenge I offered you, every adventure I gave you?” “Was today that someday that you and I talked about yesterday?”
    When I get to see God face to face I want to be able to tell God, “I embraced every thing, every challenge you gave me. I did not give up while I was earth and I don’t plan on letting you down now that I’m with you live and in person.” I would also like to ask him, “What’s up with making my morning coffee taste like every thing from an apple to baked zucchini?”

    1. Roger,

      “What if” is still in my vocabulary, but, now that phrase is followed by “I don’t do it?”
      Now THAT is MY inspiration for the day.


  2. Great Post.. we are so looking forward to seeing you in Maine on the 13th. Hope you will have time to enjoy the Coast of Maine!!!

  3. Love this post… made me laugh right out loud! I sure do agree that “What ifs” hinder and hold us back! I am constantly amazed that a man of your age (JUST KIDDING, kind of) lives your life FULLY ALIVE… Bless you for sharing those moments. What an inspiration!

  4. Great post, Ken. Loved it. Fantastic pic of you making the dive. Were you “Fully Dressed”? (Next book title)


  5. “what if” sits on the shelf with my “If onlys” When I hear those words I remind myself I have made a promise to live without regret— in the abundance that God has provided whether it be an abundance of knock-knock jokes with a child or a trip by myself to an unknown location. My battle cry (even whispered at times in intense fear) is “No Regrets”

  6. Ken, I love it (and loved the message you spoke at Crosspoint Church in Nashville). What-if are big words. That’s why I wrote the book, What If Thinking. When people approach life from a biblical perspective by asking what if questions, they might discover their lives becoming less chaotic and them becoming more fully alive!

  7. Ken, this post was perfect timing for me because I’m going to Ohio next week to care for two of our grandchildren while their mother runs a choral camp. I’ve been worried that the heat and their inexhaustible energy will leave me exhausted and barely able to function well enough to look after myself, let alone take care of them! Now I’m challenged to approach it differently so that in the end I can say as you did, “After a week of….., I FEEL YOUNGER!!!!!!!” Thanks! ~SH

  8. Three words I don’t say: “I’m too old” Ken, thanks for the continuing encouragement to LIVE!

  9. Living with depression and anxiety, I have worked so hard on removing the “what if,” “should have,” “could of,” “would of,” etc… it is so easy to say and an easy way of putting undue stress on yourself. I like the word, I tried, it may not have worked out, but I did it. I am on this path of finding the good in things. At work, after I punch in the time clock says, “accepted.” It is nice to be accepted, even at work! I say out loud, I am accepted, atleast time timeclock is accepting of me and my customers will find me acceptable also. I love to pump myself up at work. Keep up the great blogs Ken!

  10. I LOVE this post…cutting in line at Cracker Barrel is serious business! Glad you had a fun week – looks like it was a blast!

  11. I love this post and the pics as well! What a wonder-filled week you must of had!

    I am prone to let “what if’s” get in the way of risks when it comes to relationships. I have experienced pain, and the side where “what if’s” actually happened! It has made me dive-shy.

    I love me some adventure. I have no “what if” tensions when it comes to adrenaline. I have loved sky diving and great white shark diving. One day, I will bungee jump!

  12. My son and I just talked about What if and all the different scenerios that those two words can make your mind wonder too. I turned the phrase to: What if there is a lesson God wants me to learn? This helps me to focus on the positive and open my mind to feel the full adventure. Plus, God has a wicked back hand when I don’t follow his leadings. I felt his back hand one too many times.

  13. I had the opportunity to let the “What ifs” affect my life this weekend. My friends and I left for a trip to West Virginia. But with the storms that passed through the night before, we could have been stopped by the “What ifs” of the event.

    What if:

    There’s no power
    Trees are down
    Another storm hits

    And so many more questions. Yet we went and had a blast.

  14. Well, this was a great and fun read! We need to have more of these exciting times in our lives. I have done many also, but not with those thought processes of “what ifs”. Mine are usually the “whys?” Why am I doing this?! Why am I up here on a 50 foot pole with harnesses? Why am I up in this parasail? Why am I flying in a helicopter over beautiful Hawaii with a barf bag in my lap? Why? Because if I do not experience these things, I will not be able to brag to my family that I really did do this. Next on my why list is a hot air balloon ride! Keep these blogs coming, they break up my busy days allowing me to stop, read and laugh at someone else for a change. Blessings to you Ken.

  15. My “what ifs” have kept me from speaking up in a conversation full of laughter just to join in the fun. Or playing a piano piece that I’ve been working on. Or offering to pray in a prayer circle. Even more deadly, I’m still struggling with not letting “what ifs” keep me from fully trusting Jesus. I’ve shoved asside fear to say “thank you” to a war veteran. Just recently I finally learned a song on the piano that I’ve always wanted to tackle. Taking it from Tebow and posts like this, winning is really worth the extra effort–especially when I know that Jesus is sitting on the edge of His seat cheering me on.

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