Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 2, 2009

Want A Purpose? Want To Find Where You Fit? Say Hello To Risk

I have been amazed at our move here. God is putting me in the middle of a scenario in which I find myself not only able and willing, but accepted by others to do what I’m able and willing to do. I’m challenged by all the things I’ve ever wondered about being challenged by. Even those life questions like “Could my family do [x] if they had to?” are being faced and answered. And it’s so refreshing!

These things are not happening because I planned it this way. In fact, God’s training for this started when I was 17, I just didn’t know it. So I can’t tell you how to find your calling and do it in short order, becasue that’s not what happened to me.

What has happened is that God has repeatedly given me the same test. He would corner me, then give me a risky way to get out, and I learned to either stay in the corner (not fun) or take the risk (not fun). Sometimes the risks didn’t work, so I would learn that His pleasure and purposes were not dependent on my earthly success. Obedience and relationship are worth far more to God than riches and popularity.

So if you find yourself always taking the safest path, you are automatically limiting your life to a less-than-full one. When you follow God, there are times you have to learn to walk on water during a storm. There are times that you hide and deny knowing Him. There are also the times when He uses you to proclaim His glory with boldness. All of these are preparation for your mission, just like with Peter, or any of the other apostles.

Talking with the Pastor today, he mentioned being content with God’s presence. I think that was a timely word for me. All of the risk-taking to get to this point has not yielded a risk-free life. God has simply trained us to believe Him, even when our other senses are telling us we’re about to lose it all. I still get nervous about it. I still get moments of worry as I have documented here. What’s changed over the years is my ability to go to God during the event rather than after, and to have Him minister to me personally. Over the span of my life, that’s a relatively new thing.

If you, like most, have been programmed to make life as safe as possible, you are setting yourself up for the largest type of disappointment. With risk, you already know that failure is a very real option. You typically proceed with only one eye open because you can’t bear to watch the impending destruction with both eyes. (You’d close both, but then you couldn’t see where you were going.)

With man-made stability, you end up convincing yourself (falsely) that you have everything under control. When the stock market takes your life savings away, or when the corporation that you worked thirty years for decides that your retirement benefits are too expensive to continue paying, then your entire world is pulled out from under you. You have nothing. You’ve spent your energies on stability, rather than trust. It is emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausting. It is humbling. It is a potential bitterness pit. All because we were trying so hard to be “responsible” or to “learn from the ant, o sluggard.”

But to God, wisdom is listening to and obeying Him. The parable about the wise man and foolish man building houses is not about their educations, their savings accounts, their career choices, or even their work ethics. It was all about listening to God, and acting on what He says.

Growing up, I thought this meant perfectly obeying everything in the Bible. Not hardly. It’s about pursuing a relationship with God in which He speaks, you hear, and you obey. Bible study is a sub-category of that. Again, note that the wise man was not the one who read the Bible and did what it said perfectly. It was the man who hears the word of God and acts on them.

This is inherently risky. Pick up your Bible and try to find a risk-free mission that the Lord sent someone on. It is much easier to find a risky mission. Yet those who we admire as “faithful” pursued the risk, rather than the stability. How did the American church lose that idea? When was it that we let the world tell us what to do with our money, our time, and our lives?

If you know you are meant for more; if you know that your job has nothing to do with your calling; if you know where you live is dragging you down; if you feel like that you need to chose between a relationship and your destiny; if you are uncomfortable with the definition of “comfort” that you’ve been taught, then it’s time to bow up and take a risk. Flopping on your face a mile closer to your purpose is so much better than standing upright in a life-sucking scenario.

It’s better to take a risk. Yes, that one. The one that scares you so bad, you don’t even think about it anymore. Yep. Hold it up to God and say, “You can have this back now. I’m done being afraid of it. Let’s talk about my destiny.”

And He will smile, and oblige. And it will be a weepingly rich conversation that you will never forget. And once content with only His presence, he will, as Irwin McManus says, take you were only dead men can go.

Risk actually pays where stability can only promise to, and that’s if everything goes right. And how often have you experienced that? Do yourself a huge heaping favor. Get out of your boat, and walk on the water. That’s where Jesus is, so you’ll be fine.


  1. Brad,
    Once again you have brought a part of your heart and walk vividly to life with words. As you can imagine, this really hits home for me…probably for all of us.

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