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We don’t like risk. 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 lower the risk of injuries. We buy tamper proof containers, and put metal detectors in our buildings and warnings on our hairdryers to decrease the risk of harm. We buy insurance for our vacations and our cell phones, and purchase extended warranties for our electronics and cars just to decrease our risk of financial loss. There are at two huge bureaucracies in our federal government, the FDA and CPA, devoted to protecting consumers from anything produced that might harm us. We don’t like risk for ourselves.

But we love it when other people take the risk. We glamorize the bad boys who live on the edge; the people who don’t play by the rules and still beat the odds. We make heroes out of frontiersmen and cowboys, soldiers, policemen, and firemen because they are willing to take risks. We root for the underdog and the one who pushes the limits to succeed. We wait with eager anticipation for the daredevils to do a life-threatening stunt; watch rodeos and NASCAR, waiting for the crashes.

Our culture seem to have a love/hate relationship with risk. But the real truth of the matter is that risk is inherent is inherent in everything we do. Every choice you make – to do or not to do something, has a cost. We may try to minimize risks, but we don’t want miss out either. If you take the chance, you risk failing; if you stay safe, you can’t succeed or accomplish anything of much value.

When I look carefully at the great adventures of the Bible, I realize that all of the awesome revelations and miracles were predicated on situations I would have desperately tried to avoid. Noah’s rescue from the flood followed a hundred years of construction that would most certainly have branded him the town kook. David, the teenage shepherd, accepted the challenge of a giant that the best warriors in the army of Israel had already refused to fight. Daniel’s miraculous rescue required that he spend the night with lions. Mary Magdalen suffered with seven demons before she could know God’s deliverance. All the people Jesus healed struggled with physical ailments and hopelessness.

I don’t want to be afraid or ridiculed. I don’t want to be thrown into a fiery furnace or sold into slavery. I don’t want to be falsely accused or put in jail. I don’t want to pick up a snake or be swallowed by a fish. I don’t want to challenge the authority of someone who has the power to kill me. I don’t want to have to defy my government to obey my God. I don’t want to mourn or be in pain or suffer or know shame. But it is in situations exactly like those that the obedience of ordinary people displays the extraordinary power of God.

The more I learn about God, the deeper my understanding of his character and his plan, the more I don’t want to be separated from him. I am an ordinary woman with real fears and weaknesses who worships the God who has all power and has promised to redeem me, and I want my life to display evidence of the extraordinary God I serve. But in order to do that, I’m going to have risk trusting and obeying His plan, even when I really like my plan.

The irony is that we control so very little. On August 17, 2001 my family visited the World Trade Center. We spent one hour in security lines. They knew they might be a target because they had already been attacked in 1993, and they were serious about security. They wanded each of us, they went through my purse and the boys’ backpacks, we were sniffed by dogs who could detect explosives, and each of us had to walk through a metal detector so they were absolutely sure we didn’t have weapons. 3 ½ weeks later, the people in charge of security for the World Trade Center on 9/11 again did everything they could to prevent the attack they expected.

The problem was that they weren’t expecting the attack that actually occurred. Their limited perspective and understanding didn’t prepare them for what really happened. Your limited perspective and understanding of the future won’t prepare you either. But your daily obedience to God’s call on your life will prepare you.

Those who choose to trust God more than they fear what they cannot control see the glory of God right here on earth. No matter what choice you make, it will cost you something. You can miss God’s presence and blessing, you can forfeit your front row see to God’s power at work in your life, if you insist on being your own God and reject any course of action that has risk. You’ll never see God’s power as clearly as when you finally realize you are not in control at all. Our choices don’t diminish or increase God’s love for us, but they do determine whether or not we allow God’s story to become our story. God doesn’t ask us to approve his plan or necessarily like what he asks us to do; but he does require that we obey…even when we can’t see the possibility of a happy ending. It is in those moments of obedience that He gives us the desires of his heart and a front row seat to see his power. If you refuse to do anything different, you will never accomplish anything new. Refusing to take risks keeps you tied to what has been, rather than what can be. Trust Him with what is to come.

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