Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking a Risk

I wonder why my close friends still talk to me.  They call me for innocuous conversation and healthy venting and I have to lay down a spiritual gauntlet.  I would love to be the friend that always provides comfort - the friend you call to feel better.  But I'm pretty sure I'm not that friend, sad to say.  I'm the friend who is compelled to speak the truth, even as I try to do it in/with love; I still grit my teeth, hoping the person on the other end of the call doesn't swear never to speak to me again after we hang up.

My gift is exhortation and encouragement; and it seems I have both in equal measures.

Encouragement gives people approval and support.  It leaves you feeling, well, encouraged to keep up what you are doing.  But exhortation is a different animal.  Exhortation is defined as: an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something.  It needs to be delivered carefully.  You have to know what you are talking about and usually you are asking someone to make a big change.  That's ok if you have no emotional investment in the person.  But if you do, exhortation can be a nail-biter. 

Even with the assurances my sweet friend gave me, telling me what I said to her was right on, my teeth are still clenched.  I know the words were Spirit-led, but I still challenged her to change in a major way.  What's worse is knowing God has the same hurdle in mind for me.  

What came out in the conversation with my precious friend just now is a lingering issue - taking a risk with the Lord.  However that plays out - Christ wants us to be risk-takers.  He wants us to follow Him wherever He takes us AND be totally dependent on Him for the results.  He wants us to rely on Him to make the best of any situation - good or bad.  I'm good there, I have learned to do that.

My struggle is believing that whatever happens is for the best.  More than that, I struggle with the idea that what the Lord allows maybe be tinged with gray.  I have a hard time believing only the best will happen.

I start to freak when I think about all the things that could swing one way or the other - all the variables and all the change to come.  But the "what if" that really blows my mind is this: it is entirely possible nothing will go wrong.  I'm not thinking Pollyanna-like, I'm human so I understand there will be speed bumps and transition periods.  But WHAT IF NOTHING BAD HAPPENS??? 

Taking a risk with God means surrendering our comforts and security or knowing the timing of when things will happen.  These are the idols I cling to and when they don't appear, I start to get upset with God.  Doesn't He owe me a little detail?  Doesn't He want me to be happy and feel safe?

Yes, of course He does but I also know God is way more interested in the growth of our relationship, than in my comfort in any given moment.

The things He asks me to do are HARD.  The things He is asking of you are HARD.

But as the old saying goes: NO PAIN, NO GAIN.

Does there always have to be pain though?

We are about to embark on some very risky behavior in the next 6 months.   My pain will certainly be clear, but what will my gain be?  More abundance than I can handle, probably.  That is the risk I'm facing.  All things are possible for those that believe, so instead of expecting things to go to Hell, I need to pray for the desire to believe this next season of our life will be a little piece of Heaven.

I look forward to talking to my friend again and maybe doing more listening this time than talking.  In the meantime, I'll work on obeying the risk God is asking me to take.  The pain will be in letting go of my expectations, but when I do, I can't wait to see what we gain.

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