A Colorado mountaineer and guide was once asked if he thought climbers had a death wish. He replied, “Actually, they have a life wish, to live life to the fullest.” As a careful yet adventurous climber, he explained why he considered the risks worth taking: “When it comes time for me to die,” he said, “I do not wish to discover that I have not lived.”

As the apostle Paul traveled to Jerusalem, it may have appeared to his closest friends that he had a death wish. At one point, several people warned him of the danger and urged him not to go (Acts 21:4,12). But Paul had already made up his mind in Ephesus, where he clearly stated that his purpose was to “finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (20:24).

Paul did not take unnecessary risks in his witness as a Christian, but he never shied away from publicly declaring his faith in Jesus Christ. His goal was not to play it safe and protect himself. Instead, he lived to finish his spiritual race with joy, and to complete God’s task for him.

Paul’s courage challenges us to live for Christ with selfless abandon, not apprehension. That’s the way to know ultimate fulfillment and joy. Do we share his life wish today?