When we think of Neil Armstrong stepping off the ladder of the lunar lander to come down into the dust of the moon, we have to think about the risk he took. But if we pull that view back some and see the many, many steps he took before he took that "giant leap" it makes the giant leap look much less risky. Why? Because he had so much faith and confidence in the men, equipment, research, and history supporting his mission.
As we journey with God, day after day, and follow in the path he lays before us, we should see serving our Lord as far less risky. We should hold fast to a deep trust already built through all the little steps we've taken with God. Seeing how much God has ordered our steps and how much he as been the Greater Provider of the outcomes, we should feel no risk when we walk with him. Trusting God should be easy. The problem however, is our sinful nature. We often doubt God and that leaves us feeling like we're taking giant leaps with Jesus. The risk is not found in doing what God calls us to do; the risk is letting go of our own ideas and strength to follow God's call. And when we do submit and trust the Lord, amazing things will happen.
I've faithfully ventured into the work of planting a church. If I were to believe many of the books I've read, I'd probably feel like I were stepping off a lunar lander. But the reality is this: Christ says he will build his Church (Matthew 16:18). If it is Christ who builds his Church--to include every local church, what risk am I really taking? He's the builder and I should have faith and confidence in him. He knows what he's doing and his care for what he builds far surpasses my level of care. Whether Redeeming Life Church gets off the ground or not, it's Christ's church, not mine. If this is true, and I believe it is, how much risk does a church planter really take? None, other than letting go personal pride and trusting Jesus. There's no risk if the church planter has faith in Christ. (I type this and at the same time know that I'll still feel like I'm taking big "risks" when I choose to let go of my own ideas and desires and follow Christ's plan for Redeeming Life Church. It's the curse of sin.)
At times I feel like am looking into the vastness space far above the earth and required to take a step out in to it. But that's just a feeling that comes and goes and I grow in my relationship with Jesus. Peter on the other hand, actually did step out of the boat and walk on the stormy waves. (See John 6 and Matthew 14.) Many would say he took a risk getting out the boat, which from our perspective is probably true considering none of the other guys accepted Jesus' invitation to walk on water in the middle of a storm. But the bigger risk was to take his focus off Christ. Without Christ we try to go under the power of our own steam. Letting go of my own effort, knowing just how little steam I really have, feels like the bigger risk when in reality the risker thing is placing our trust in ourselves. Sadly, letting go of our pride, ideas, and fleeting strength is often the gamble we fail to risk and the decision to place our trust in ourselves only leads to failure.
If you'd like to stop taking risks, take a leap off the ladder and come join our family at Redeeming Life Church!
*The photo used in this post was taken and published by NASA and is in the public domain.