Most things in life work like a muscle:
Use it, and it grows.
Ignore it, and atrophy sets in.
Take tithing for example. Tithing doesn’t come naturally, but if you start tithing at age 5 your “tithing” muscle is incredibly strong by age 25. As the weight gets heavier (i.e. your paycheck gets bigger) it’s no big deal to continue tithing. The muscle has been stretched and built up for years.
So what about your “risk-taking” muscle? I’m not talking about the stupid kind of risk where your actions put you or someone you love in danger, but the kinds of risk where you venture off into the unknown. Where you hear God say something outside your plan, but you keep suppressing it by binging on Netflix.
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to get my Masters degree out of state. I pulled out a map and marked all the major cities within 8 hours, and I started submitting applications. One thing led to another and a door was opened exactly 8 hours away in Nashville, Tennessee. So at 21 years old, I took one of my first big risks. I packed up what little I had and took off to live in Nashville without knowing a soul. It was a fantastic experience, and I have zero regrets.
My most rewarding experiences in the last ten years are those that required taking a risk — times when I didn’t have all the information or didn’t know what outcome to expect, but the Lord was literally pulling me into the unknown.
My thought while I was single was:
If I’m not working out my “risk” muscle while I am single, then what are the chances I’ll be willing to take Godly risk once I’m married and “risk-aversion” really ramps up?
To say it another way, if I’m not taking risks with God now, I may never have the confidence to do it in marriage where the stakes are much higher. As a single person, if I fell on my face, I’d just eat ramen noodles on my parents’ couch until I was back on my feet.
I’m 34 and I have over a decade’s worth of experience as an adult in God leading me in unknown directions and providing for every need along the way. Now that I’m newly married, I needed those previous experiences to draw upon so that when the Lord calls my wife and me to do something a little out of the ordinary, I will have full confidence in God as my Provider. If I had played it safe during my single years, I would probably be scared to death to do anything out of the ordinary now that I’m married.
Now before you hear me say to quit your job, move across the country, and max out your credit cards to start a non-profit, let me close with 3 disclaimers about taking risks:
1. You do not create a risk because you are bored. You take a risk or a step of faith because the Holy Spirit has called you to do something specific in an area of your life.
2. It’s not a competition with those around you about who is taking the “coolest” risk for the Lord. The only thing that ever matters is your obedience to the Holy Spirit for you and you alone. Your risk may not be to become a missionary on the other side of the world, but He may be calling you to be an intentional missionary starting at work tomorrow.
3. The “risk” some need to take is just the opposite of what you are thinking: You might need to take a risk by committing. A lot of times, taking a “risk” is associated with quitting and leaving something. Have you ever thought that maybe God wants you do go into the uncharted territory of committing to something (a job, a church, a quiet time, a budget) so He can have you stay in one place long enough to be teachable?
What risk do you need to take? What step of faith has God been laying on your heart for months—maybe even years—that you continue to ignore? If you know someone who needs to take a risk, will you encourage them by emailing them this post?