Just some early morning thoughts from me to you—
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4: 13-15 (NIV)
I took a big one last week riding with some of my family on a Universal Studios’ roller-coaster ride appropriately named the Rip Ride Rockit. One time was good enough. Been there–done that. Nothing more for me to prove. And no need to tempt the nuts & bolts holding the ride together, which remained sufficiently fastened until the end of our ride.
I’ve been through a number of its many faces a lot in the last few weeks. And I’ll bet you have had your own experiences with it also. A step toward “risk” is not the usual choice for the direction of our first step in a normal day full of our decisions. As a matter of fact, it’s often something we try our best to avoid altogether. Unless we’re not thinking, or just showing off, or we find ourselves in a corner of expectancy, or are trying to prove something to someone who we hope will finally take notice of us.
Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines “risk” as: something that may cause injury or harm; the state of not being protected from injury, harm, or evil, i.e. children living in poverty are considered at risk for a number of medical and developmental problems.
Risk. We often find ourselves in the middle of it—because we don’t know. If we knew what would happen, then risk wouldn’t be needed. If we knew, then we’d have the mind of God. We don’t know and we don’t have the mind of God. And so we find our lives often lived in the middle of a sea of risk. We really don’t know if something will happen to us on the way to the office. There is always the possibility that when we fall asleep at night, we won’t wake for another morning on this earth. We can’t predict what might occur as a result of the state of unrest around the world.
Every moment of our lives is lived a bit on the side of the unpredictable. And so risk is part of the tapestry of our lives. If the truth be told, everywhere we turn there is uncertainty. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or what the next moment will bring for that matter. And so we often move into the next moment hand-in-hand with risk.
But God does know—and He never takes risks—because He knows. Do you suppose He knows what the result of our taking a certain risk will be? I suppose the answer is yes. And do you suppose that there are those risks that He might want us to take that in fact would honor Him and be consistent with His overall plan for our lives and the lives of others? I suppose, the answer is also yes.
Clearly, too, there are risks, inconsistent with His will for our lives and others, which God would not want us to take? For example, taking a risk that violates a sacred trust God gives you in caring for yourself or others. Risk which puts yourself or others foolishly in danger—like risking your life by jumping off a ten story building to see if you really can or cannot fly, or not going to the doctor when your body is signaling that you should, or risking the lives and safety of physically defenseless children by allowing others unprotected access to them in the public domain. Or a risk which goes against God’s Word and risks the sanctity of God-given relationships through acts of unfaithfulness in marriage—of any degree, or risks the priorities of our lives by creating idols in your life—work, money, things, power, etc.—inconsistent with the priorities of God.
Instead, the kind of risk that will honor God is that which is consistent with His will, and His word—like following a call to a career that no one had expected, maybe writing, or teaching, coaching, or answering a call to serve your country through military service. Like reaching out into an underprivileged neighborhood with an educational initiative which will give children hope. Hope for the life God intended for them to have—through education—which they may not have had without you taking that leap of faith. Or a moment which risks ending a relationship with someone because you have to say no to them, in order to protect a loved one.
God-honoring risk is the kind which requires stepping out into the unknown, with the possibility of doing something that we believe will ultimately honor God by providing good to others—and maybe even good to yourself. It’s that risk when you do all you do God’s way instead of by the way of the world, even though at times you can’t see the end and the world doesn’t understand or honor your decision. The kind of risk which puts God and others’ needs and interests first, trusting that when we do that God will meet our needs.
The kind that lifts our own agenda may temporarily appeal and appease, but it will never satisfy or fulfill us or God’s purpose for our lives.
However, the kind that steps out with a desire to satisfy and honor God’s agenda and God’s will, will ultimately fulfill and advance His kingdom and our purpose within it.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.