The Right Risks

I tossed around a few titles in my head:

Risking It All

No, not really … there are times you don’t dare risk, like when it is really presumption rather than courage. How about

Risky Business

Hmmm, don’t really like the connotations of that. but Right Risks? I thought that nabbed the precise way I wanted to look at a few matters, from the practical to the spiritual.

One of the right risks to take in life are the ones that come with money.

Right off the top I will tell you I haven’t always taken the right risks. Sometimes I risked things I should not have, and other times I was too slow and cautious when I should have placed big bets on something. This is gamblers language and in some ways our life and time are not just choices, but things we take chances with- as a gamble. But since I am one of those people quite opposed to gambling, even the ” harmless” kind, as a rule ( although I will say “I bet ya’ ” if I’m positive of the outcome;), we aren’t speaking of the activity commonly defined as “gambling”. Calculated risk, however is how I have generally approached life.

In sharing some things here I realize, and I would like you to realize, that not everyone has the same internal makeup in tolerance for risk, or ways of dealing with the choices of life. I know there are some who fear taking on the responsibility of making decisions and others who arrogantly forge ahead with their own and others lives at stake. But most of us, most, just handle the unknowns of life balancing out the pros and cons in the best manner we deem appropriate.

One of the right risks to take in life are the ones that come with money. We risk when we decide to buy a home, or have a child, or change jobs. We risk financially when we decide to invest, or make a big expenditure. There are right times and places for all these things, and if we are too fearful, we sometimes miss out. If we are too foolhardy we lose opportunities we wished we had waited and been ready for. So, what makes us wise about the “right risks”? For all of us some of it is knowing ourselves, or at least enough about ourselves.

I know some of you wanted me to say “Find out what God says” first, but I think it actually takes place first in our own hearts. I think that is why so much is said in the scriptures about preparing the field, breaking up the fallow ground of the inner life, etc. The Words of God are like seeds and the single most important requisite for lively seed is the state of the soil bed it falls into. For real wisdom we need to know what God has to say about it, but wisdom needs to be received and honored to be followed. Maybe that is why the commandment to honor parents has a place in the top ten with God, we need to receive the wisdom of our predecessors. This is why it is so tragic when selfish parents choose rather to live lives of folly and not attain wisdom to pass on to their children. Still, you can’t live very long without some sort of wisdom accruing, even if it is the “hard knocks” variety. That is worth paying attention to, and collecting. That is part of preparing the ground of our hearts for wisdom.

I have risked by taking responsibility for my own reproductive choices as much as possible. That has meant home birth and welcoming the children given me. Economically (and some would say in mental sanity) I risked by taking on a large size family. Certainly almost all my friends were opting for two or three children at the time. I have lived a long enough time to hear many say, ” I wish, now…. I had had more children”, etc. But we all take our risks and make our choices. Although few would likely take it as far as I have! LOL!

At this time of life I am risking investing in the stock market. Many probably think that is a crazier and worse choice than having a large investment in children, but there are only so many ways to prepare for old age. I have a high tolerance for risk, and a faith that personally translates into some of these pathways for me. God may lead you differently, but I think He wants for all of us to calculate (count the costs) and then take the risk of faith in many areas of life. That is what the ten stewards were given to do- go and put what what was given them to work. Sure we can lose, but this risk, if we have good faith in the way we approach it, tends to multiplication. When speaking of money, one of the ways of risking is by giving, although money is the easiest risk to take in giving to others, personal time and service are also things which we spend in life. All has a tendency to come back multiplied, but not all has the promise. Still…. Give Anyway. If you are a person who does so with faith in God, the calculated return is likely to be great. It is not always in the expected currency, or from the expected source, but God gives return with a full and running over measure.

I have missed some, and badly, in some of these calculated risks. I have a blind spot, typical for intp behavior types, of perceiving the actual motivations and needs of other persons -in contrast to seeing general patterns of people. I don’t gauge that well, and my personal life -especially with trying to be a giving person to my family of origin, has burnt me badly and drained my resources. It cost me in other relationships,as well, but I chose that risk. Sometimes we do that(make poor choices) until we learn important lessons. And in that case, perhaps they gave us a better return for our expenditure than we imagined. Not all of life is amassing tangible things, or even having good experiences. Some of life is the golden hard currency of learned and banked wisdom, about ourselves, about God, about our fellow human beings.

Faith is taking a calculated risk on God’s ability to come through for us. It isn’t hope, but a direction of choice and reliance that is firmly embedded in the substance of who God is and what we understand He has done in the past. It is a foundation that can be built, through attending to hearing what He says, and buttressed, by the outcomes of what we have trusted Him for. We often think of faith as a commodity: “Give us more faith” when it is actually a life force that creates the commodities of spiritual life, “If you had the faith of a mustard seed”. All life derives from a God who gives it liberally and willingly. He has placed the seeds of faith within us, and we take the action, the risk, of putting it into the ground of our lives.

That is why reading the scriptures is – in the sense of an analogy- like reading stock reports, analyses, and advice experts. We understand the stability and security of what we are putting our trust in, we look at the returns of the past from others who have faced these same situations. We rely on what has been proven, in times past, and for others, and what the future prospects may be.

What we want to do, in taking the “Right Risks”, is build our tolerance for risk through putting our resources in trustworthy hands of God through a consistent courageousness of stepping into what for us is unknown. The calculation of success is based upon the proven returns of principles and truths that we find in the scriptures. In this, even when we take unwise risks we find a net underneath of God’s grace- he comes through with the capital we need to make it in life.

Our trust in God is the one sure thing in life. That bet trumps all the others.