Life is dangerous. Every day each of us risk our lives in a variety of ways. For example, you have a 1 in 366,000 chance of falling out of your bed every morning and hitting your head and dying. You likewise have about a 1 in 800,000 chance of drowning in your bathtub, and a similar chance of choking on your breakfast. But by far the most dangerous thing you do in a day is getting into your car and driving to work or school. Every time you’re on the roads, you have a 1 in 6,000 chance of dying.
But in spite of these odds and the risk these every day activities incur, most of us gladly take them. If we didn’t we’d live a sheltered, unfulfilled life that never accomplished anything. Taking calculated risks is a good and right thing to do. In fact, we could go so far as to say that there is nothing worth doing that doesn’t involve at least some measure of risk.
In addition to the normal, every-day type of risks that we take, God also calls us to take risks of faith and obedience – times when he desires for us to walk in faith in order to do something he has called us to do. For instance, maybe you’ve known that God wants you to share your faith with a friend or family member, but to do so you’d be risking your relationship with that person. Is that a worthwhile risk to take? Or maybe you’ve known that God wants you to invest your finances into a particular ministry, but times are tight: is that a risk that is good to take? Or, maybe you and your spouse have been having a rough time in your marriage, and God wants you to start the healing process by confessing your sin and asking forgiveness, but to do so would be to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. Is that a risk you’d take? As in all things, the Bible guides us in how we should think about taking risks of faith and obedience.
The story of Caleb in Joshua 14 provides us with an excellent example of how we should evaluate and weigh risks of faith, and ultimately to take risks for the glory of God. You can read his story here and listen to a message on his life here.
How to take risks for the glory of God
1. Consider what God has done.
When we think about taking a risk of faith and obedience, the first thing we should call to mind is the testimony of all that God has done in the lives of his people. The Bible is replete with miracle after miracle that God has performed on behalf o those who are trusting in him: the plagues in Egypt; the parting of the Red Sea; manna from heaven; the Jordan River standing as a heap; the walls of Jericho fall; and on and on it goes, and that’s just a few examples from the first six books of the Bible. Open your Bible and discover that God continuously provides for, fights for, rescues, delivers, saves, blesses, cares for, and loves his people. The testimony of God’s mighty works should instill confidence in us as we consider taking risks of faith and obedience, and they should motivate us to walk in faith. The same God who did those mighty deeds in the pages of the Bible is the same one we serve today.
Similarly, we can also consider what God has done by our own testimony to his power. You know better than anyone what God has done in your life: how he has provided for you, how he has rescued and delivered you, how he has saved and blessed you, how he has cared for and loved you. When you consider stepping out in faith, and when you’re faced with the uncertainty of the future, consider what God has done and let that motivate you to walk in faith.
2. Consider what God has said.
In addition to considering what God has done when we take risks of faith and obedience, we should also consider what God has said. Is God faithful to his word? Will he keep his promises? Again, we have a whole book that proves to us that it is impossible for God to lie and that he accomplishes all his purposes. He is a faithful God who keeps his promises.
The Bible is full of promises that apply to you and me – promises that ensure that God will always care for us and provide for us and help us – especially when we are willing to take a risk and step out in faith and obedience. God delights in being faithful to what he has said. So as you weight the risks of faith and obedience, consider what God has done and what God has said.
3. Walk by faith.
When you have determined to take a risk of faith and obedience based on your knowledge of what God has done and said, then go for it – take the risk, step out over the ledge and do it. Don’t waffle; don’t doubt; don’t second guess yourself. Instead, walk in bold faith.
So often we spend a lot of time thinking about what we’re going to do that we never actually get on with it. When you’ve been inspired to take a risk for the glory of God because of what God has done and said, carry through on your decision: trust God and walk in faith.
4. Remember that God reigns over the future.
If we take risks for the glory of God and walk in faith and actually live out those decisions, will we always be guaranteed success? No, because we don’t know the future, and God has never promised that every decision we make or risk we take will end in success.
Instead, we can walk by faith and take risks – not because we know the future – but because we know our God. We know that God holds the future in his hand, and that he is reigning over the future right now, in the present. So even if I take a risk of faith and end up getting hurt, God has not abandoned me. No, he is still there, and waiting to care for me, heal me, and rescue me. For these reasons, God’s people can and should walk confidently in faith, ready to risk it all because of the God they serve.