risky business

No this is not a post about high stakes gambling, bungee jumping, bull fighting, tightrope walking, Indy car racing or a thousand other high-risk human pursuits. Although we do seem to be prone to risk taking as a species. Consider the growing popularity of “extreme sports.” We can’t be satisfied with just regular, ordinary sports? Maybe it’s because everyday life doesn’t have enough risk and by extension excitement, built into it. We no longer have to hunt for our food and there are no unexplored lands. (just think how risky those first trans-Atlantic sea voyages were)

Reflecting on my own life, the message I received growing up was, “play it safe, taking risks is too, well, risky – aka – dangerous.” Those might not have been the exact words, but the meaning was clear – don’t take risks. Today, I’m not a gambler or a cliff diver or a stunt double or a rock climber – I have attempted to risk proof my life. But is that a good thing? Should that be the goal?

Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.” So if I have been living a life of faith, I have been living a “risky” life all along. I am told to walk by faith and not by sight. But faith walking seems to me to be the riskier of the two alternatives. I risk walking into walls, stepping off of a cliff or falling into an unseen pit. Desiring to avoid such risks, I often choose to walk by sight, relying only on myself and what I can see with my own eyes, rather than to walk by faith, which requires trusting and following an unseen God. The latter seems like risky behavior to me! I guess that’s why we have the expression – “a leap of faith.”

Now that I think about it, the Bible is full of the stories of risk takers. Abraham took a risk. Abraham uprooted his family, packed up everything he owned and set out for an unknown destination, all in answer to the call of an unseen God. That’s a huge risk. That’s faith. Faith takes risks. Faith compelled Abraham to take the risk of obeying and following God.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ . . . So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; . . . Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ . . . Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 12:1, 4, & 15:4-6)

Queen Esther was also a risk taker. She had faith in God. So much so that she risked it all. Esther risked her very life for her people as she obeyed God by faith. Esther knew the king could order her death if she came into his presence without an invitation or a summons from him. She went to the king anyway in order to plead for the life of her fellow Jews.

“Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’ ” (Esther 4:15-16)

Noah was another person whose faith propelled him to take a risk. Because Noah trusted God, Noah built a huge boat on dry land when there was no rain, no water and no apparent need for such a large ark to be constructed. Noah risked ridicule (which he received in full measure I’m sure) as he devoted all his time, energy and resources to building this ark to the exact specifications that God had given him. It’s fortunate for Noah and his family that he took that risk in faith, obeyed God and built the boat as God instructed him to do. That boat (ark) ended up saving the lives of Noah and his family.

“And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. . . . The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. . . . Every living thing that moved on the earth perished – . . . Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:5-6, 18-23)

Faith takes risks. Rahab took a risk when she hid the Israelite spies and later helped them to escape Jericho without being killed. Rahab knew the king would take her life if he found out what she had done. Later, when the Israelites conquered Jericho, killing everyone, Joshua spared the lives of Rahab and her family because she had saved the lives of the men he had sent as spies.

Faith takes risks. Ruth took a risk, a leap of faith. She left her homeland and her people in order to go with her mother in law, Naomi, to a land in which she would be a foreigner and an outcast. Naomi was a poor widow who had nothing to offer Ruth. Naomi had no sons for Ruth to marry. She had no way to provide for herself or for Ruth. And yet, Ruth took a risk and decided to embark with Naomi on a dangerous journey to a place where she would be an alien, an outcast.

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me’ ” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth ended up marrying a man named Boaz. Together they had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of the future king of Israel, David. Ruth took a risk and ended up becoming the great grandmother of King David. She trusted God, walking by faith instead of sight.

Faith is definitely risky business. The three wise men set out to find the Christ child with only a star to guide them and no real plan in place. No maps, no guarantees, just faith that God would guide them to their intended destination. Simon and Andrew took a risk when they left everything to follow Jesus, as did James and John.

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther, He saw James . . . and his brother John in a boat, . . . He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.” (Mark 1:16-20)

That’s a risky thing to do for sure, isn’t it? Leave what you know for something and for someone that you don’t know. But that’s exactly what those four fishermen did in that moment when Jesus called to them. Faith is a risky business for sure. I guess Dr. Hendricks was right when he said, “There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.”

Am I willing to risk it all? Jesus has issued the invitation saying –

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’ ” (Luke 9:23-25)

Do I have the courage to walk by faith? – especially knowing that faith takes risks. Faith is risky business. David took a risk when he faced Goliath on the battlefield. Daniel risked death in a lion’s den rather than cease praying to God. The Bible is full of the stories of people of character, courage and faith. I don’t want to play it safe if that means forfeiting my faith.

Faith takes risks. Therefore, I am a risk taker by definition if I am walking by faith and not by sight. I must be willing to risk ridicule, being ostracized, persecuted, imprisoned – even killed. Currently, there are places around the globe where people are imprisoned and killed because of their faith in God. God sees their sacrifice and honors their risks with His reward.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

Faith requires risk. Therefore, I will be a risk taker because – “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith – a risky business.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

sincerely, Grace Day

2 thoughts on “risky business

  1. I loved how you pointed out all the various risk takers in the bible. Today at church the passage in Hebrews was taught on…the ones of great faith. I don’t believe that was a coincidence that you wrote about that at this same time. God’s timing is the best timing….no doubt about it!! I love the closing verse about faith is being certain of what we do not see! In the end, we don’t even rely on what our eyes tell us. We walk
    by faith.


  2. Thankful for the reminder that risk is a handmaiden to faith; everyday feels full of risk in one way or another. I so look forward to the day when we see the One who we follow in this risky business of walking by faith not by sight and enter the eternal rest where risk is part of the old order that has passed away and blessed & assured peace is the new that is coming! Come, Lord Jesus, come! Amen


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