Without a doubt, risks can feel scary but they can reap huge rewards. Take parachuting, for instance. I’ve not done it (yet), but those who have rave about free-falling through the atmosphere until their parachute opens and wafts them to the earth.
I ride a Gold Wing motorbike. Risky? Yes. But nothing beats the unobstructed connection with the great outdoors and the rush of air past my face. Besides, riding allows me time alone with my husband and an escape from my office.
Parachuting and motorbiking are physical risks. But what about God-given risks? You know, the ones that call us to “do it afraid” and trust whatever He’s telling us to do. They’re scary, too, but they also carry rewards. 1 Kings 17 tells about a widow who experienced this firsthand.
This woman was at her wits’ end. Her cupboards were empty save for a handful of flour and a little cooking oil. When the prophet Elijah found her, she was gathering sticks for a fire. She told him that she was planning to cook one last meal, and then she and her son would die (v. 12). Elijah listened for a moment, acknowledged her feelings, and then presented her with a challenge:
“Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the LORD sends rain and the crops grow again!”
Risky? Yes. Human logic would say that making bread for this man would leave her with nothing for herself and her son. But this challenge came with a promise of God’s provision. If she did what the man said, God would supply her physical needs. Could she trust that promise? Would she trust that promise?
The widow made her choice to do as Elijah said. She took a God-given risk and reaped the reward. “She and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah” (vv. 15,16).
I’ve experienced similar situations. They’ve not involved flour and oil, but they’ve required steps of faith taken with knocking knees. Launching International Messengers Canada, for instance, meant leaving behind the security of provided housing in our previous ministry and trusting God to supply financially so we could buy a home in the city where we moved. Was that scary? Oh yes, but taking the risk meant reaping the reward of seeing God provide each month to pay the mortgage on the townhouse we bought.
Frankly, I like life when it’s predictable and cozy, but that’s not where personal and spiritual growth happens. Predictable and cozy causes me to trust in my own abilities and become complacent. I lose my passion for and my awareness of my dependency on God. But risk-taking changes that. It keeps my faith alive and vibrant. It drives me into the Word and forces me to cling to God’s promises. It makes me aware of my dependency on God for absolutely everything. And I’m good with that. Obviously the widow was, too. She took the risk presented to her and she reaped the reward of seeing God provide.
What insights do you have about taking God-given risks? Any stories to tell?