A man was recently talking about taking unnecessary risks. When he was a boy his father took him to the swimming pool to teach him to swim. His father’s ‘teaching’ method was to throw the boy in the deep end of the pool, figuring he would instinctively learn to hold his breath and dog paddle to the side. But he didn’t. Instead he started to swallow water and began to sink. The next thing he remembered was the paramedics rescuing him. To this day he says he doesn’t like swimming and is very cautious about taking unnecessary risks.
Are you a risk taker? None of us can hide in a safety cocoon. There is an inherent level of risk in most everything we do. But why take unnecessary risks? We know to take more precaution with our belongings when we’re traveling. We’re careful about wandering down dangerous avenues. But there are other forms of risk taking that might escape our attention if we aren’t vigilant. One of them is taking the risk of ignoring God.
Too often the tale is told of a life spent ignoring God and living for self, figuring “I’ll think about God when I’m older.” Sadly, we don’t know when our last opportunity will come. That’s also true of speaking to a friend about God. Many think it’s too awkward and so they put off talking about things that matter most. I remember asking to meet a former employee who had moved to another town before I had spoken to them about Jesus. We met in a mall and I remember both the sense of urgency I had to share with my friend and also how befuddled I must have sounded. Weeks later my friend wrote to thank me saying they had just asked Jesus into their heart. That was a risk worth taking!
But we take unnecessary risks when we ignore God’s nudging our conscience to change our ways. Instead of obeying him right away, we put it off. We think that we will obey when we get our life in order, when we’re sure we can live at a certain standard of living, when it makes more sense to our way of thinking, or when it’s more convenient. But the longer we say “No, not now,” the more likely we will continue to put him off. Wait long enough and the opportunity passes, along with the blessings he intended for us. That’s the lesson of Romans 1 where certain people, knowing God’s truth, exchanged it instead for a lie they wanted to believe. So God gave them over to the depravity of their minds. Sometimes, we get exactly what we ask for! Seeking personal comfort and temporary “gain” when it means losing God’s intended blessings and guidance seems like a dangerous and unnecessary risk, doesn’t it?
Faith comes by hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of God (Romans 10:17). If we don’t seek God’s counsel and don’t read his word daily, we are taking unnecessary risks. It’s like jumping into the deep end of the pool when you don’t know how to swim. And trust me, in this swimming pool of life, none of us learn how to swim by ourselves! Ask God to reveal what unnecessary risks you are taking, while there is still time to correct them.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. – Ephesians 5:15–17