Friday, July 2, 2010

White Water Rafting

Sorry I'm late this week. I just returned from a conference for young leaders. It was energizing to see all the passion in these young people. One of the daily Bible studies there challenged us to take "divine risks". As we discussed the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4) we realized that she not only took a risk by speaking to Jesus, she took an even bigger risk by telling everyone in her town about the encounter. The study was well done and many people took some big risks by entrusting other people with their stories.

The biggest water risk I've ever taken (intentionally anyway) was some pretty tame white water rafting in North Carolina. In fact, my biggest risk was letting my girls, who were in high school at the time, use kayaks instead of joining me and the other parents and younger children on the raft. While it was a fairly tame stretch of river, it had enough rapids to generate a thrill or two and one of our passengers went over the side into the drink. The guides took the raft through ahead of the kayaks so we were able to watch the kids come through various chutes and currents. The excitement, pride and joy evident on their faces was worth every minute of my fear. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained applies to faith as well. If I only trust God for what I can do myself, I'm not really trusting God. During that Bible study we were asked to share a time we took a "divine risk". The risk story I shared was small, but it yielded a big step in faith for me. I'm sure some of you have heard me tell it, so forgive the repeat.

A long time ago, when I was a single mom stretched pretty thin to make ends meet, I began working toward tithing - a practice I respected but hadn't practiced for a long time. I started at 1% and began working forward as I was able. I believe I had reached a point around 4% when something nudged me to try to do more. I decided to write a check equal to my FICA withholding (7.85% at the time - nearly double what my budget said I could manage) every payday and see how many weeks I could stretch that far. And guess what! God supplied what my little family needed - whether it was self-discipline or some real thing. God's power grew before my very eyes in this experiment. I never had to cut back to the 4% I believed I could manage. It was a wonderful gain from a simple venture.

As parents we work hard to keep our children safe from the whitewater of life. It's easy to set things up so that they rely on us, or themselves, rather than on God. We feel safer if they don't venture too far or reach too high. We encourage them to embrace risks we know aren't very risky. We hold them back because we are afraid for them. We need to be reminded that God is there in our risk taking and carries us forward even we're not in control of the raft. And, best of all, God will multiply faith with every risk taken.

Go ahead! Climb into the raft - God's in the water and there's a big adventure ahead for those who'll risk it!

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