Risk: the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen; someone or something that may cause something bad or unpleasant to happen; a person or thing that someone judges to be a good or bad choice.*
The idea of risk sounds ominous doesn’t it?
What happens to risk when you live a life where you get your guidance from God? Is risk ever even relevant? Does God’s guidance preclude the notion that you even have to take a risk?
Dr. Willard says that risk is just a part of life and certainly we need to be able to take risks. In fact, he says we should take risks.
I have friends who are scared to death to risk anything. I know a woman who is so conservative that she lives in horror of doing something that is new or inventive, much less risk-taking. She fears the idea that something unpleasant may happen. I would describe her life as very inhibited, at times she seems to be scared of living.
What does one give up by not risking?
I hate to say it, but when we have a chance to take a risk, we should calculate the risk and if it is not stupid, then God will be there to help us. Many think He will guarantee our success, but He may not. If the chance that we have taken is not reasonable or intelligent, we may experience failure. But there is a truth here that we need to heed; there is learning in the process of failure and we have a God who wants us to learn.
Dr. Willard quotes A.T. Pierson who says “One great law for all who would be truly led by God’s pillar of cloud and fire, is to take no step at the bidding of self-will or without the clear moving of a heavenly guide….there is never any risk provided we are only lead by God” [italics mine]. Dr. Willard disagrees with this very conservative outlook on life. “The immaturity of many Christians today is due to their adopting the attitude toward risk expressed in this statement, as the whole truth about hearing from God.”
Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God is all about hearing the voice of God in our lives and the “no risk” attitude is just man’s way of using God to make life easier. We want a secure life. We want a life without surprises. We want a life without risk.
What happens when we risk and the reward is not worth the risk? We blame ourselves. We blame others. Yes, some even blame God.
We have failed and we don’t see the learning that has occurred. We just see the failure.
On a personal note, I can relate to this. I have taken chances and failed. I know it hurts to fail. I was talking to a pastor about the “long-term” look at life the other night. She said that it is hard to be happy when you are right in the middle of a mess, but if you can just hold on to your faith, you can see God at work in the process of risk and even the resulting failure. It may be years later, but He is there. God wants us to grow and after learning from the failure, that’s exactly what can happen.
Yes, it hurts to be “in the mess,” but over a period of time, the mess may have been just what you needed. Also, the resultant growth is what you needed.
Dr. Willard states “we need not seek risk, but we will never be without it, at least in this world. Nor should we try to be.”
Will hearing from God preclude the notion of risk?
In Dr. Willard’s words “only risk produces character.” [Willard, 210].
I am thinking that this is a good thing.
Take a risk; God will be there, whatever happens.