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Rethinking Risk


My oldest son, Brady, is three years old and I am continually impressed by his feats. In the past 12 months, he has taught himself how to ride a bike, swim, swing, and climb almost anything with little guidance from me. As proud as he makes me, he also scares me as he seems completely oblivious and apathetic to risk! Two years ago I splurged on a large playground in our backyard for the boys as I think outdoor play and exploration are important. Standing perched at the top of the log ladder has become a routine act, but recently Brady decided to push his limits even further. From the top of the ladder, he wanted to climb into the upper opening of the fort above the climbing wall entrance and just to the left of where he is standing in the picture above. The day he first tried to do this, I admittedly was not watching him closely, and as he began to stretch out his left leg over the crossbar, I heard Colin (his younger brother) say, "Be careful Brady." As I'm reading a work email on my phone, I'm still not overly concerned until I hear Brady's response, "It's ok Colin, Daddy will catch me if I fall."

Wait, what did he just say?! I was 20 yards away from him, and he's depending on me to save him? It just got serious.

I look up and realize Brady has his left leg above the fort crossbar and his right leg still on the log ladder. His right hand is clinging to the ladder rope, and he is slowly entering the splits position. If he lets go of the rope, he falls backward headfirst and likely hits his head on the climbing wall. I sprint over, rappel the climbing wall, and in the most un-mission impossible way possible, I help push Brady through the upper opening of the fort. For a moment I was very proud of myself, I saved a life and fulfilled my son's dream all at once... just livin' the dad-life baby. I was there for him, and it felt good, especially since we accomplished something together.

Isn't this what God wants from us?!

If He has given us a calling, He wants us to trust Him without fully assessing the risk. Knowing Brady had zero doubt I'd save him made me proud and deepened our bond. As Christians, we all struggle to fully trust God and it is helpful to consider the reasons:

We are not sure if it's truly His calling:

Like Gideon, Moses, and so many others in scripture, we doubt God's calling in our life. For specific decisions, we sincerely wonder if it's our desires or God's? It's tough to compare our 21st-century situations to historical biblical figures, but we question God just the same. Speaking to God via earnest prayer is the best way to decipher between your desires and His will.

We are control freaks:

How many times have we planned our actions away from God's will for us? Will we ever know? What If Brady had measured the distance before committing to reach the fort? Or what if I had heard him express doubts to Colin or suggest that he was unsure if I'd save him? I likely would not have been as committed or concerned, and I may have let him decide on his own. Whether he takes the risk or not, it is unlikely he accomplishes this goal without his father, and his belief in me was essential for receiving my support.

Some think it's spiritual to be risk-adverse:

In religious circles, it is often thought spiritual to use phrases like "good stewardship," "accountability," or "plan before you build the tower." While these are intended for good, they can put too much focus on human planning rather than God's providence. People are even stigmatized for embarking on endeavors without planning for every pitfall, but this is where God prefers to intervene. If we can do everything on our own, why do we need God?

We value practicality over spontaneity:

Unfortunately, the secular emphasis of pragmatism and human logic has worked its way into Christian thinking. We think we have an answer for everything and it must make sense. We plan out every aspect of our lives with never-ending events, commitments, and schedules. Our calendars own us. We rationalize it by thinking it's orderly and necessary to staying organized but then we miss God entirely. We are so busy we lose sight of His signals, which can be spontaneous, unorthodox and not on our timing.

We fear failure:

We are scared to death of failure! It has paralyzed and morphed us into weird risk-reducing bean counters. We fear what people will think of us if we fail. We worry about how we will survive financially or physically. We worst case scenarios and intentionally ignore or discount the incredible talents God has given us for the task at hand. We sell ourselves short and exaggerate the negative effects of failure.

Comfort = Happiness

For many, predictability brings comfort, which brings happiness. Even though we may die tomorrow, we feel safe and secure planning out our future as we think best. It is a complete state of mind, we have zero control over our lives, but we feel better thinking we do. It's so silly, right?

Ultimately, the greatest risk we all face is in not trusting God's plan for us. I believe it's time for us to rethink risk as doubt and give God an opportunity to work wonders on our behalf. Your deficiency or lack of ability is not increased risk; it's now increased justification for God to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

In conclusion, the final two thoughts below have been most influential in my life so far regarding this topic:

Spontaneity: Some of the best moments in my life have happened unexpectedly, where God has spoken into my life extemporaneously. Meeting my wife, my children, starting a business, volunteering, making new friends, etc. Be ready for God to move when you least expect it. In fact, it's impossible to plan out an act of God. That's just not how He works. Just like He has in the past, I want God to find me, in his timing, and I will be ready to listen and act accordingly.

Trust vs. Reward: Similar to the concept of Risk vs. Reward, the greater the trust, the greater the reward He gives us.

Romans 8:31 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?


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