Back when my kids were just young punks and my source of income was grading high school English papers, I used to think there should be a grade for risk. Some students were so gifted they could just roll out of bed, grab a pen and write a brilliant, flawless paper without even breaking a sweat. But there were others--and I'm not talking those who didn't give a rip and barely manage to turn in something--who weren't nearly as innately gifted. They struggled with sentence structure, spelling, indeed, with a lot of mechanics. However, there were risks taken. I loved these kids and their writing. I loved the moment when they realized they were on to something and that something had come out of them and onto the page. And I always wanted that to be acknowledged as much (maybe even more!) than those perfect pages that sprang so easily from the word-smiths.
And I realized back then that there is always a connection between risk and reward spiritually. That is, I honestly, completely believe that God meets us in direct proportion to how much we risk in faith. I don't say this just sitting in my cozy living room, staring out into the world, but because He's shown Beve and me this over and over. We stepped out in faith more than once. In such extreme ways that many around us shook their heads, laughed, called us crazy. Questioned why and how, and what on earth we thought we were doing. Come to think of it, from the moment we decided to get married--without knowing where we'd live or what we'd do--our life together has been defined by stepping out in faith. Leaving this job for the next before there was a next, leaving that one for seminary for me, without a job or home for our family. Risks every time. The very place we now call home Beve claimed by a faith I questioned up one side and down the other, and we took a risk to buy.
And He always met us. We have seen Him work. And known to give Him praise.
But I'm slow-witted. And I forget.
And now I'm 55 years old, settled pretty well into this life and the ones who are being called to step out in faith are my children...and it's a whole different thing to let them risk than to risk myself. Or to risk WITH them. Sigh.
But most sadly, I've forgotten that God will meet them in proportion to their risk.
So early this morning--like 4 AM, after a tossing and turning night--I started thinking about sky-diving.
Something about which I personally know nothing.
However, I do have a great imagination, have read a whole lot, and have seen plenty of movies, TV, etc. So I think I can speak to this in a limited way.
You have to step out of the plane. That's the first risk.
Then there's a free-fall. That's the second risk.
And only then, does the parachute open (or get opened).
The parachute doesn't open IN the plane.
You have to take that giant, scary step out into the wild, blue yonder.
Fall into space. And fall and fall and fall some more.
And that's such a big risk, you couldn't pay me to do it. No way, no how.
But stepping out to what God has called you into, that's also a risk, if you look at it with your little human eyes.
Of course it's hard. Risk always is. Leaving safety, leaving what you know for what you don't. Hard indeed. Leaving what is easy and controllable for what is risky and uncontrollable. Hard, indeed. But...
He meets us in proportion to our risk. I really, really believe this. The more you're willing to give over to Him, the more you're going to receive when He meets you.
This isn't just me talking.
It's the disciples who laid down their nets, and Matthew who left his table with the money still on it. It's Zaccheus who climbed up a tree, and Saul the persecutor becoming one of the persecuted. It's Mary wiping His feet with her tears and Jairus who trusted Him to heal his daughter. It's Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Jim Eliot, Mother Teresa, Brother Andrew, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Corrie Ten Boom. And so many, many more besides. I can't begin to list all those who have left, or stood up to, or risked all for Him. And seen Him meet them in proportion to that risk.
It's true that we don't know what lies ahead when we take such a step out of the plane. But it's also true, that we don't step out alone. He will meet us in the wild, blue yonder.