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From the Pastor’s Heart

When you’re caught in the middle of doubt and fear, call out to Jesus for help.

Would you consider yourself a risk-taker? More importantly, would you ever take a risk for God? 

That’s something Dr. Stanley asked of himself—and us. This month, let’s consider the dangers we encounter as believers, and what “risk” means when it comes to children of the heavenly Father. 

Here’s what Dr. Stanley had to say on the topic.

What drives mountain climbers to put their lives on the line? I have watched them in Yosemite National Park scaling a rock face without any net or ropes, just grabbing handholds on the cliff face. If they’d made one wrong move, they could have plummeted to their deaths.

Whether you’re someone who likes to play it safe or one of those who enjoy living on the edge, the most important issue to consider is: What does God think about risk-taking? Would He ever ask you or me to face the possibility of danger, suffering, loss, or even death?

To answer that, let’s first consider the apostle Paul. 

His life in Christ was filled with risks. His actions led him to be beaten, imprisoned, persecuted by the Jews, and chased out of one city after another. Why was Paul willing to go through all that? 

He gave the reason in Acts 20:24: “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.” 

The intensity of Paul’s commitment to Christ made the apostle willing to take any course approved by God—regardless of the possible price.

Is that the attitude you have about doing whatever God leads you to do? You may feel out of your depth and totally inadequate, but that should never stop you from stepping out in faith to obey Him. 

If you want to live a godly life that’s useful to the Savior, you must be willing to take risks. It may be costly in this life, as it was for Paul, but the Lord will reward you richly in eternity.

Now let’s look at Peter. 

Of all the disciples, he may have been the biggest risk-taker. He once had the audacity to reprove Jesus (Matt. 16:22-23), and when a crowd came to arrest the Lord, Peter was willing to fight to save Him (John 18:10). On both occasions, Peter’s bravery was misguided because it was centered on his interests, not Christ’s. 

Risk-taking of this kind, when we follow our own hearts instead of seeking God’s will, can be costly indeed. There were consequences to Peter’s mistakes, for example, for the servant whose ear was severed (v. 10).

Another time, Peter risked walking on water at Jesus’ command (Matt. 14:22-33). Humanly speaking, that was impossible, yet Peter was willing to believe Jesus despite the laws of nature, and obey his Lord. 

Because of his faith, he at first succeeded: “Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and came toward Jesus” (v. 29). Peter was doing well until he looked at the waves. Then his confidence in Christ waned, and he started to sink. 

Does that sound like you? 

Perhaps your goal is to obey God in faith, but you’ve been focusing on obstacles. You accepted risk with a heart of obedience, and maybe you saw fruit for a while, but then you started dwelling on the challenges. As earthly impediments to God’s will got bigger in your mind (and perhaps in reality), Christ became smaller in your thinking. Before long, you were overcome with fear and uncertainty. 

And that wasn’t what you’d expected.

There’s hope for growing past lapses like this. Peter’s willingness to follow the Lord in danger fluctuated throughout his life. He wouldn’t take the risk, for example, of public loyalty to Jesus when He was under trial. The disciple denied his Savior three times but immediately regretted it (Matt. 26:75). Jesus forgave him and asked Peter to take care of His people (John 21:17). He also told Peter that he would eventually die glorifying God (v. 19).

Following Christ is risky. 

You have to remember that “you are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19). You’ve been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and you now belong to Him. This means you go where He leads, do what He commands, and submit to whatever He says—even when there’s the possibility of danger or suffering. 

It’s impossible to know the outcome of every decision you make. 

God alone knows that. But He assures you of His presence with you and His Spirit’s power to enable you.

In actuality, the risk you feel is fear that events won’t turn out as you desire. But obedience is always the safest place to be. When you’re caught in the middle of doubt and fear, call out to Jesus for help. That’s what Peter did, and Jesus rescued him from the water. He’ll do the same for you.

Dr. Stanley’s reflection about the risks of obeying the Lord reminds us of Peter’s advice to the church: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). 

This month, we pray you’re able to rest in the Lord’s love, discover His will, and walk trustfully with Him wherever He leads. 

Till next time, God bless you.

For His Glory, 

Your Friends at In Touch Ministries

P.S. As you observe Independence Day, pray for the United States and all who live here. We know that “A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much” (James 5:16). There is no better guide, for a person or populace, than God Himself. Let’s offer Him supplication on behalf of the country. Ask God to reveal Jesus to our hearts so that peace and wisdom are spread, and God is glorified throughout the land. God bless America.