A November Note from Pastor Rich

Risk Taking

Arnold Palmer, one of the most beloved golfers to ever play the game, died recently at the age of 87. Because of his charisma, success, and gutsy style of golf, he was known as “The King” on the PGA Tour. His “everyman” image helped make golf a television staple as people flocked to see him on the course and in their living rooms. Part of Palmer’s attraction was his go-for-broke style that was punctuated with powerful, bold shots. In one of his most spectacular rounds, he was trailing by seven going in to the final day of the 1960 U.S. Open. Sportswriter Bob Drum told Palmer he couldn’t win because, “You blew your chance.” Palmer drove the green on the 346-yard first hole, birdied six of the first seven holes, shot a 65, and beat a young amateur prodigy named Jack Nicklaus by two strokes to win his only Open title. He once told the Wall Street Journal, “There always were conservative players, fairways-and-greens types. The spectators get a kick out of seeing a player take a shot, take a risk.”

Palmer reminds me that there will always be a place for the careful and cautious, but legends are often created by risks. The real work of the world and the church gets done by people who are willing to take a risk from time to time. Lives and churches are changed when people are willing to take a risk—sometimes everything. Think of what it meant for the man who was by the pool of Bethesda when Jesus told him, “Get up, pick up you pallet and walk.” (John 5:8) After being crippled for 38 years, I for one, would have some doubt as to whether or not I could obey that command. However, he took a risk and was immediately healed.

Can you imagine what Peter thought when his brother Andrew came to him and said, “We have found the Messiah?” And then bringing him to Jesus and Jesus not even asking his name said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas.” (John 1:41-42) Peter could not have known what his future looked like at that time, but he took a risk and followed Jesus and became one of the most outstanding personalities in the New Testament.

Put yourself in the sandals of Thomas when Jesus told him, “...Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27) I would be shaking in my boots/sandals. But, Thomas took a chance and became convinced and life was changed for him.

The best thing about taking a risk for God is when we see what God chooses to do in the process. God has a purpose in everything He does and when He requires something of you, you can be sure that there is a good reason for it. What kinds of risks has God been asking you to take? For some of us who are older believers, mature in the faith, perhaps God is asking us to risk our church looking a little different than we might prefer in order to reach “generation next.” Maybe the risk is participating in music I wouldn’t choose or coming into an environment that doesn’t fit my generation or my liking. Isn’t the most important thing that we reach people for Christ? One of my greatest desires for a new Pastor is that he will have a heart, a passion, for reaching the youth of our city.

Maybe God is asking you to take a risk and enter into some ministry within the church or within our community. Yes, there may be a level of fear involved, but the risk is worth it if you are able to be used by God and impact others for Christ. Think of it, God may use you to speak into the lives of other people. Perhaps God is speaking to you about spending more time in His Word or in prayer. Perhaps He is talking to you about your church attendance or your giving practices. And perhaps God is speaking to you about something I couldn’t even imagine. Whatever the risk may be, take it and allow God to change your life and the lives around you because you were faithful and took a chance. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

It is important to remember that most things worth doing always come with their share of risks and if we do not take the risks, we may end up accomplishing nothing. Ask yourself this question: What would happen if you gave yourself permission to do something you’ve never done before? There’s only one way to find out.

Serving Christ Together,
Pastor Rich