Monday, October 23, 2006

Worth the Risk

The significant mileposts in the progression of my life have been marked by risks. Some of these risks "paid off," providing some of the greatest moments of joy and celebration in my life. Others bombed, wrecking me emotionally and spiritually for months at a time.

Looking back at these situations, I've decided I don't like the phrase "paid off" (ergo, the preceding, grammatically unecessary quotation marks). The phrase implies that the risk was simply about the result. If the result is success, then risk good. If the result is failure, then risk bad.

The results of our decisions are important; it is a good thing for our work to bear fruit. At the same time, labeling risks simply by the results may entirely miss their point. Life, after all, is about how we live in the moment and not about where we end up.

In the risks in my life, either joy or wreckage has usually resulted, but growth/maturation/learning/etc has also tagged along. Wallowing in results, I often miss this truth about risks - that regardless of the outcome, they always drew me to a greater dependence on God and a fuller understanding of who he is. In those moments, I understand what it means to be weak. God tells us that his power is made perfect in weakness, so these moments of risk show me God's power in a way that I refuse to see when I arrogantly hold onto my facade of control, comfort, and certainty. By taking the risk, I get a small glimpse of that often cliched by rarely realized life of dependence on God.

If they are prayerful and in the interest of God's purposes, risks have always been a good idea in my life. Not because they will end in raving successes. And surely not because they will be fun and increase happiness. But because they more poignantly and more really reveal to me the powerful and loving character of my Father. Whether amidst the emotioal ruins of a risk gone bad or the pristine peak of victory previously unknown, I can look back and see that everything worked out, that I had been cared for all along. A little more has been learned about who God is. And that makes it worth the risk.


AJ said...

Hey this is Asa. I totally forgot about your blog, I'm sorry man!

Excellent read man, I have been studying about this kind of stuff lately. I love how you said "labeling risks simply by the results may entirely miss their point." It was funny, because Joe told me of this opportunity the other day to spend some time once a week with some ymca kids sharing the gospel with them, and initially I was scared. I thought at first, What if I say something wrong? What if they don't like me? What if..what if..what if. You know what? I will do His will, trust Him, and give all the "what ifs" to Him.

Thank you for this encouraging post man!

God Bless,


Oakley said...

I feel that living where we do and at this point in time, so few of the "risks" that we take are actual risks. Sometimes I have to remind myself that true risks usually involve bodily harm and everything else is just me trying to cut through my own emotional BS.
I wish I could say that i've risked enough in life to say that i've experienced the highs and lows that you have. I'm making a trip to the QC this weekend so I'll be expecting a little Raggamuffin discussion from you.

Anonymous said...

That hits me man. Its something that is so true, but we don’t often think about it (the getting somewhere is often as if not more important than getting to the desired location) And it is comforting to know that everything that happens in this life is ordained by God and that He promises that everything will work out for the good of His people. THAT’S US!! Joe said something that really hit me in Bible study tonight. He said that he wanted to "Freefall for God" Just to let it go and live life the best he could without worrying where you’re going to end up.
Anyway, I miss you man, sorry I haven’t posted a comment in a long time but I have had a lot going on. Oh, by the way, this risk thing. That means you’re moving back up here right man?
Your Brother in Christ
David Hebda

Tammy O said...

As you can tell, this entry generated a lot of discussion in our Bible Study, Ben.
We seem to have this mentality that we are secure if we don't take risks; we assume that conditions will stay the way they are. But there is no such thing as security. Things change, and we cannot control them.
Every decision is a risk on our part, because we, unlike God, do not know the outcome. But God knows the outcome of every risk we take for Him. Regardless of whether the outcome was what we intended or not, you may be sure that it was what God intended. We will lose nothing more than what God deems best for us not to have, and we will gain his best in return.
Many people are willing to take some risks in hope of material gain, while some people take risks because it gives them an adrenaline rush or makes them feel brave. But for a Christian, there is something far greater at stake - Christ's glory and the welfare of his church. And we are compelled, not by a desire to feel good about ourselves, but by our trust in God's sovereignty and providence.
As John Piper points out, "...the power and the motive behind taking risks for the cause of God is not heroism, or the lust for adventure, or the courage of self-reliance, or the need to earn God's good will, but rather faith in the all-providing, all-ruling, all-satisfying Son of God, Jesus Christ."

Ben said...

Glad to hear the post was useful for ya'll. Thanks for your comments to help flesh out some of the ideas. And Dave, per your concluding comment, reading life relevance into my posts is not allowed. That being said, I'm still getting the e-mails from that I signed up for that last night at your house. . . .