Continued from Take the Risk Part One . . .
Dick Lincoln shared years ago at my home church that if Moses belonged to most Baptist churches today, this is how the Red Sea crossing would pan out. When God tells them "forward march," Moses appoints a committee to study the feasibility of crossing the Red Sea. They meet and meet, gather information, and collaborate to discover the depth of the sea, the probability of harm, and the likelihood of their crossing safely. Then they bring back a report and decide, "We can't do it." When God told Moses to move forward, he did not appoint a committee, he obeyed. Lincoln exclaimed, "Faith is not feeling good about God. Faith is obedience!"
Michael Catt said, "The last time God put together a committee, it was to discover if the Israelites should go into the promised land. The result was that they wandered in the wilderness for forty years and did funerals."
Henry Blackaby and Avery Willis describe the risk of obedience this way:
God bore Israel on eagles' wings and again and again demonstrated that He was sufficient when the Hebrews flew by faith. In all kinds of ways - the miracles in Egypt, at the Red Sea, the manna, the quail, and the water out of the rock - He showed that He wanted them to step out in faith. If they fell, He picked them up and took them up again and again to teach them to fly. As you reflect on what happened to Israel, recall a circumstance in which you felt God "pushed you or your church off the cliff" or when God "shook you into the air to cause you to fly by faith."
As with Israel, God brings His people today to a decision point. He brings you to the place where you must exercise faith - stepping out on a limb that you don't know will hold you up. When you step out in faith, you find God has provided wings - the wings of faith. You begin to fly and fulfill the purpose for which God has designed you! It's glorious! God's people may be at such a point. We will either believe God and follow Him, or history will record the story of our bleached bones in the desert.. (On Mission with God)
Jesus challenged Peter (Matthew 14) to leave the safety of the boat in order to walk on the water with the Master. Today, Jesus still challenges people to take risks. So, what happens when we step out of the boat?
5. We choose to not play it safe.
When Jesus invited Peter to get out of the boat, He challenged him to step into a fearful situation. Taking risks with God always involves some level of fear and uncertainty.
Eleanor Roosevelt shared, "Do one thing every day that scares you."
Some people have a vision of God like He is the eternal Mister Rogers. Come into his land and everything will be happy and peachy. I do think that Mister Rogers gave us one facet of the character of God. However, balance that with C. S. Lewis' view from The Chronicles of Narnia.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan asks the Beavers about Aslan, the true king of Narnia, who is a symbol of the Lord Jesus:
"Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."
So it is with following Christ today. Stepping out of the boat with an incredible storm billowing about, Peter dangerously walks on the water. His eyes fix on the One who is often unsafe but is incredibly good.
When God challenges us to get out of the boat, it will feel unsafe, unsettled, and unsure.
Peter Drucker shares, "People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year."
In other words, playing it safe and not taking risks does not protect us any more from big mistakes than does playing it risky.
6. We have to get out of the boat.
William Faulkner said, "You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore."
As redundant as it sounds, the fact remains that in order to get out of the boat, we must simply get out of the boat. There comes a time to stop talking about it, thinking about it, and creating our risk/cost analysis. There comes a time to leave the boat.
I met my wife in January of 1997 in Louisville, Kentucky. We met the week she moved to campus. I immediately thought she was fantastic and knew that she was the kind of woman I wanted to marry. I could have spent months dreaming about her, thinking about asking her out, and hoping that she would like me. Instead, seven days after meeting her I called and asked her out on a date. Eleven months later I asked her to marry me. I had to get out of the boat, and I never regretted it.
When God redirected Paul's journeying through Asia in order to get him to Troas, the apostle learned that God wanted him to leave the continent and go to Europe. Though Europe was not on Paul's agenda, when the revelation came via the Macedonian vision, the apostle had a choice. Leave the boat - the expected and familiar aspect of Asia - and go in a whole new direction to a new continent. Or, stay with his own agenda, play it safe, and keep knocking on doors in familiar territory. They left Asia, set sail, and began a whole new adventure.
The last couple of years I began submitting articles and devotions to publishers with the hope of being published. Any writer who submits understands the angst of submitting and waiting. You write, working hard on a piece until you feel it is ready. You find a magazine that you think will be a good fit. Then there comes the big choice. Do I really mean business? Do I really want to send this to anyone? What if they reject it? What if they won't publish it?
Best-selling author Cecil Murphey shares that when writers tell him, "I sell everything I write," he thinks, "Then you probably don't send out many manuscripts." (Unleash the Writer Within)
Any published author knows that receiving rejections simply goes with the territory. It is normal. Successful authors receive numerous rejections. But they keep submitting.
Some writers quit after being rejected one, two, or three times. If your article gets rejected by one magazine, send it to forty-five others. So what if you didn't get the job you applied for? Apply for twenty-five more. The person you wanted to date is not interested? God owns the cattle on a thousand hills - and He knows every person in the world. There are seven billion people on planet earth. Keep trying.
Jack Canfield shares excellent advice about rejection in his book The Success Principles. He challenges readers to remember SWSWSWSW, which stands for "some will, some won't; so what - someone's waiting." In other words, out "there somewhere, someone is waiting for you and your ideas. . . . You have to keep asking until you get a yes."
Colonel Harlan Sanders received over 300 rejections for his special recipe for fried chicken before he found the one "yes." Because of his persistence, today we have Kentucky Fried Chicken. Canfield writes, "When someone says no, you say, 'Next!' Don't get stuck in fear or resentment. Move on to the next person."
A no simply means that it was not a match for that person, magazine, or company. It does not mean that you or your idea are failures.
We can sequester ourselves into our safe little worlds, or we can get out of the boat.