While lifeguarding yesterday, I was pondering over the question, “If you had to define who you were in one word, what would it be?” Looking back over my life, I realized that though I love sports, sports don’t define who I am, and though I’m certainly a Christian, that seems too broad and clique. Eventually I realized that the word I was looking for needed to encompass the concept of leaving everything on the field, and of laying my life on the line in the pursuit of a goal. My mental thesaurus was a bit slow after lifeguarding for seven hours, so I left a mental note to return to the answering of this question at a later date and moved on to less weighty matters.
Amongst others, the book I’ve been reading lately and enjoying immensely is Good to Great in God’s Eyes: Ten Practices Great Christians Have in Common, by Chip Ingram. My experience with Ingram’s writing is that he is Scripture-centered and real, yet incredibly easy to read. As I was reading, I came to the chapter entitled Take Great Risks. “Risk,” I thought, “perhaps this is the word I was searching for, though it seems perhaps a little foolhardy.” I continued reading to find the quote: “Where there’s no risk, there’s no faith; where there’s no faith, there is no power or joy or intimacy with God.” Ingram does address the possibility of foolishness within the realm of risk taking, yet would contend that there is room for using faith as a verb and taking risks without crossing the line into being foolish.
This morning, I was reading Genesis 22, and was struck again with the faith of Abraham in sacrificing his only son. When God said “go,” Abraham went, regardless of the cost. For Abraham, faith was about doing. I love verses 5 and 6, where Isaac asks where the lamb for sacrificing was, and Abraham responds, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” God was asking Abraham to take a huge risk – the risk of losing the only son which God had promised to him, which he had waited years for, and whom he loved deeply.
So while “risk taker” may not entirely define me, I think it does give somewhat of a picture. I praise the Lord that He has a created me a person who’s not afraid to play my very hardest and sacrifice my body in the pursuit of the prize. Yet I continue to pray that the prize I’m pursuing might always be Jesus Christ, not a comparably worthless win in volleyball or some other sport. At the same time, may the reason I take risks always be grounded in the God who always does what He says He will do.