You go to stand before chapter. Your knees are shaking as you announce your chapter Bible study, inviting your entire pledge class to join you. It’s a huge risk. But you do it anyway.
Why should we try things that are huge risks? Why should we risk failure? Taking risks allows us to learn to trust God. If we only do things that are safe, we never have to actually trust God, because we can get by by relying on our own ability.
Learning to Trust
The first time I tried to do something difficult, I led a Bible study for my water polo team. My team was my closest community. When my InterVarsity staff first asked me to consider leading it, I wanted to say no. Not everyone on my team (more like no one) seemed interested in Bible study. Why couldn’t I just lead a group of students who wanted to join a bible study? What if my friends didn’t like me anymore? What if they realized I was different and stopped inviting me to events?
I was terrified because I knew that I couldn’t force my teammates to show up. I couldn’t control how they perceived the invitation. And for the first time, I was trying to do something that I honestly didn’t think I could do.
So, I prayed. I prayed with a new vigor, in a way that I have never prayed before.
And God did something crazy...almost my whole team showed up. I saw God work in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I couldn't take any credit for myself, I had to give all the credit to God. Taking risks forces us to give the God, and not ourselves, the glory.
Giving God Credit
I don’t think it is an accident that God uses imperfect people. If you look at the cast of characters that make up the bible, their flaws are outstanding. But because they’re flawed, you see that it is God working and not them.
I think you see this most clearly in the life of Peter- a man Jesus picked from obscurity and became the "rock" of the church. It wasn’t his ability to speak well or write well or his amazing education that allowed him to be such a leader. It was his willingness to follow God.
When I have taken risks and tried something I was unprepared or unqualified to do, I've seen God come through; it was evident he was the one working. He deserves the credit and I don't.
I saw God's glory most clearly when my best friend became a believer during our junior year at Greek Conference. She wasn’t someone I thought would ever follow Jesus.
When she agreed to go to my sorority Bible study, I was shocked.
When she came to Greek Conference, I was speechless.
On Saturday night at Greek Conference, she was awkwardly cornered by two guys who told her about demons and I thought, well she’s now going to think I’m crazy.
Surprisingly, as we talked about the conference she said, I want to know Jesus. WHAT?!
It was a huge risk for me to ask her to come to Greek Conference; yet God met her and I got to witness my friend accepting Jesus.
Other big risks, like planting a Greek InterVarsity chapter at UGA, coaching staff or the numerous opportunities that God has given me that I haven’t been prepared for has led me to glorify the Him and not myself. In doing so, I’ve fallen more in love with Jesus.
Growing in Love for God
In 2007, I moved to a city where I knew almost no one and planted Greek InterVarsity at the 3rd largest Greek System in the country. There were 60 other campus ministries that were mostly led by old white men. And I came into Athens, as a 22-year-old, knowing nothing. As I began to plant Greek IV, inviting students to lead bible studies, sharing about how you can be Greek and Christian, it was clear that I was in over my head.
One cold (although it’s Georgia, so not that cold) November day, a coworker on my campus found me in a crying mess on the floor. Between sobs, he heard me say, “I can’t do this. I want to go home.” My friend said, “Of course you can’t! But Jesus can.”
More aware of my limitations than ever before, I began to spend more time in prayer and hanging out with Jesus. The farther I followed God into this new mission field, the closer I had to cling to Jesus. Looking back over the past 10 years, every time God had me take a risk, I would have to fall into his arms, which taught me how to live more fully in his love and the freedom of fear he offers us.
Risk is scary. It’s hard to set out to do something that you are clearly unprepared to do. However, if you take a step of faith and follow God, he will use risk to teach you to trust him, to teach you to glorify him and to teach you to rest in his embrace or love.
How is God inviting you to step into risk? Is there something he wants you to do that you are clearly unprepared or unqualified to do?
How can you trust Jesus with your risk taking, resting in his love and acceptance of you?