We admire risks in others, but fear it for ourselves.

Wanted: Uneducated fisherman to leave lucrative job and family to develop strategy and recruit for grass roots organization. No steady income. Meals provided. Must be able to swim in case of emergency.

Who would ever say yes to that want ad? Peter did. And his willingness to trust God with his future made all the difference in New Testament history, but mostly it made a huge difference to Peter. It made such a difference that he was willing to die for the one he trusted.

According to Webster’s dictionary,” risk is the possibility of loss or injury or peril; to incur the possibility of danger; a gamble, hazard or low probability chance”. The connotation of the word risk is always bad. But we glamorize the bad boys who live on the edge; the people who don’t play by the rules and beat the odds. We make heroes out of frontiersmen and cowboys, soldiers, policemen and firemen who spend their lives doing dangerous things. We root for the one who pushes the limits to succeed and support the underdog. We wait with eager anticipation for the daredevils to do a life-threatening stunt; watch rodeos, hockey, and Nascar, anticipating the falls, the fights, and the crashes. The fastest growing sports in America are the Extreme sports where contenders defy gravity and common sense with little or no protection. And yet….we spend billions of dollars per year on insurance and warranties; we study Consumer Reports before buying anything. We buy new and improved safety seats for our children; we put them to bed in flame retardant pajamas, make them wear bike helmets, and insist that their playground be built on at least 6 inches of tire rubber to prevent injuries. We buy tamper proof containers, purchase low risk mutual funds, and put metal detectors in our schools and warnings on hairdryers and cigarettes. We insist on shatterproof glass, and there are two entire department in our federal government devoted to protecting consumers from anything produced that might harm them (FDA and CPA).

But risk is inherent is inherent in everything we do. Everything you do costs you something. We do all we can to minimize risks. If you take the chance, you risk failure; if you stay safe, you miss success. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things than to rant with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much.” Too many of us have just enough of a relationship with God to feel guilty or miserable; we don’t trust him enough to see his glory or be delighted by his plan.

If I were in a natural disaster or lost in the jungle and a US Marine came out of the shadows and said, “Come this way”, I would follow him by virtue of the fact that I trust who he is and have few options without him. I have known enough Marines to be convinced that they are honorable and will choose the right thing, rather than the easy thing. If I believe that same thing about God, why do I hesitate to trust him when he asks me to change or leads me in a new direction? How would our lives be different if we consistently trusted the power of God more than we feared the risks he asks us to take? God loves us utterly as we are, but wants us to become the people he originally created us to be. What if he wants you to change careers and go back to school or to the mission field? What if he just wants you to tell your neighbor what you know about God or invite her to Bible study with you? What if God wants you to be kind to the person who is never kind to anyone? What if God wants you to apologize or set aside your “wants” for someone else’s “needs”? There are all kinds of risks, and growing spiritually is going to involve a lot of them.