Many people start a new year with a new resolution. I’ve long disliked new year’s resolutions because they seem somewhat cheesy to me. I also think that, while they can certainly provide someone with a renewed motivation to accomplish something or be a great way to set new goals in place, it can also lead to massive amounts of disappointment and discouragement when life happens and these resolutions fall away. I like to leave room for grace (some might call it procrastination/laziness/quitting haha). While losing weight, paying off debt, and other common resolutions are wonderful things to aim for, I tend to allow myself the flexibility to work on those goals as they come. To me, those are on-going life goals that I don’t want to save for the beginning of a new year.
I do, however, love thinking about the year ahead and contemplating what it is that God might be asking of me, moving in me, or doing through me in the coming season.
It’s almost as if there is an overarching story taking place in my life, and it’s usually marked by words the Lord has given me at the beginning of each year.
In 2015 I pursued FREEDOM.
In 2016 I found new opportunities to ACTIVATE my gifts/passions.
In 2017 I am stepping into areas of RISK.
While I may be adventurous and a dreamer, my adventures are usually contained within a well-planned, thoroughly thought-out course of action. Risk is typically not in my vocabulary, nor does it bring up comforting feelings for me haha. Perhaps a better way to put it is I like to take calculated risks…. ones where the odds are in my favor. So basically, not risky at all. 🙂
I hate feeling afraid, and I would say that usually risk has involved fear for me. Fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of rejection, fear of hurt, fear of embarrassment, fear of being abandoned.
Woah, that’s a lot of fear, right? As I’ve gone through counseling, I’ve realized that a lot of those fears are rooted in a forgetfulness in who God made me to be. They are built on the premise that I need to earn love, rather than the belief that God sees me as worthy, because he created me. Those fears are also hinting at a lack of faith in God’s ability to do wild, crazy, and radical things in and through me in the areas that require risk. One thing I do believe, yet often fail to remember, is that any risk that is asked of me by the Lord is sure to be backed up by his promises and with his provision.
That does not mean they will be easy risks to take. Let’s just take a quick look at the definition of risk:
a situation involving exposure to danger.
expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
Hah, just reading that I think no wonder there is fear in risk! It’s practically written into the definition! The verb definition of risk taps into a very real fear I think I struggle with: to expose someone (or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
Loss. Yep… THAT’S the word I hate. This year as I’ve already seen areas where the Lord is asking me to risk, it’s the fear of loss that has come up quite a bit for me. I’ve been fearful of losing emotional things… such as opportunities, relationships, love, and respect… as well as physical considerations such as losing my housing, money, job, or possessions.
Now, I am a tad more OK with wrapping my head around possibly losing physical possessions. I’ve seen God do crazy thing in my life already when it comes to these things and so I’ve already experienced that kind of provision. However, the area that holds more fear with me these days is the idea of losing emotional things… the things that can’t be bought… the things that have taken time to cultivate… the people who I hold dear… the experiences that I would love to have… the things that hold far more value to me than possessions.
This year, however, I’ve felt like I’m being asked to step into areas of risk at a new level. So of course, it is natural that these fears would start exposing themselves more to me. And it is also natural for me to wonder what God wants to say to me in the midst of these fears.
In what ways is he speaking to me? What areas am I to grow in? Why is risk necessary and good for me right now? What can God do through my risk?
This uncomfortable season of risk has the potential to produce such good fruit, and I don’t want to miss out.
I’ve been reminded of 1 Timothy 1:7, which says,
For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.
BOOM. ::mic drop::
Well there you have it. God, when he created us, did not create fear in us. That is not how we were designed to live. In partnership with him, we were designed to have a spirit of power, love, and self-control.
Power. Love. Self-control. These are things that do not dwell in the presence of fear. These are things that dwell in the presence of GOD. And when I read through scripture, I see these things in so many of the stories we know and love. I see risk ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.
- I think of Ruth, who left her homeland and completely uprooted her life to stay beside Naomi. God provided.
- I think of the disciples who left their friends and family – dropping it all to follow Jesus. Their lives were transformed.
- I think of Peter who stepped out of a boat onto raging waters and walked on water. He learned a massive lesson in faith.
- I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to bow down to statues, knowing the punishment would be to get thrown into a fiery furnace. The Lord protected them, even in the raging fire.
- I think of Esther, who spoke out to the king of Persia, in order to save the Jews from destruction… risking her very life to speak for her people. God’s people were rescued and Esther was given favor.
There are so many biblical examples of risk, and I am learning little by little and day by day that risk, by nature, seems to lend itself to fear… but in reality, through Christ, can be accompanied by power, love, and self-control.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life
—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—
and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God.
You’ll be changed from the inside out.
Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,
God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
There are a lot of reasons to be afraid in this world, reasons to shy away from risk and to keep ourselves hidden from possible danger, harm, or loss. But when God is the one prompting a risk, you had better believe what Romans 12 says. It is not only a command, but also a promise. It is a command to offer ourselves as an offering before the Lord in ALL of our decisions – the mundane AND the risky ones – and to embrace what God does in and through us. It is also a promise that God will continue to shape, form, mold, develop, and refine us to become more and more like the creation he had in mind when it all began “in the beginning.”
So there you have it. 2017 will certainly be an interesting year. I may not have a resolution, but I have the word RISK that I will continue to meditate on, pray on, study up on, reflect on, and learn from.
Cheers to a new year, my friends!