“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” –Genesis 12:1, 4
Without hesitation and quite emphatically, my friend Chuck said, “That’s just crazy! Taking that kind of risk is stupid at your age!” In Chuck’s not-so-humble opinion, I was about to make a huge mistake.
I’m never afraid to have push-back from someone I trust. In fact, I value my friends and appreciate their input. However, I was shocked at the intensity of his attitude and how quickly he dismissed what I shared as “foolish and irrational.”
I was 45, working at a megachurch, enjoying an amazing staff and all that God was doing in our midst. But I told Chuck, “I think God wants me to start a new church in the valley.”
He just couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that God would ask anybody to take that level of risk in their middle age. Chuck felt it was time for me to settle down and that I needed to develop some deep and lasting roots. He also said, “Risks are for the young.”
Honestly, I did start to wonder a bit, Maybe leaving a great church to take the risks of starting all over at my age is crazy.
In my 20s and 30s, I’d started or helped start several new churches. My wife and I once packed all our belongings into a U-Haul and moved with our four kids over 3,000 miles to help with a church plant. Then, just 13 months later, we loaded up the kids, plus a cat and a puppy, and moved another 3,000 miles to help start another new church.
Most of my friends and family thought I was crazy then too. But I had the drive and energy of youth and a thirst for adventure in the kingdom.
I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I live without regrets, and I’m grateful for all that we experienced in the early years of our ministry.
In my 40s, I started to realize that I knew far less than I thought I knew as a young man, but I was still willing to take risks because I’d learned through firsthand experience that God is trustworthy.
In fact, my journey proved two things to me:
1. God is always faithful.
2. God always looks at our hearts.
Even when I jumped too quickly and ran ahead of God, his faithfulness never failed me, and I believe my willing heart brought a smile to God’s face despite my sometimes unwise actions.
I was often like the little boy who tells his dad he wants to help sweep up the garage only to make a bigger mess in the process. Nonetheless, a good father smiles and is blessed by his son’s desire to serve.
God would rather you and I blunder ahead sometimes than to see us cower in fear, or to have us just sit on our butts doing nothing.
When we feel compelled to take risks and our hearts are filled with love and faith and a desire to serve our Father, I’m convinced that God smiles and says, “Okay, child, let’s see how you do and what you learn in the process.”
Why is it good to take a risk?
Because when we do so for the right reason, with the right heart and with a righteous passion for the kingdom, even our mistakes are redeemed into a blessing.
God can and does redeem, restore and renew any life and any thing that’s fully surrendered to him.
I’m not encouraging foolishness or recklessness.
I’m not saying we should follow every whim and desire without any forethought.
Without question, it’s wise to pray and to seek the counsel of others.
But I’d rather take a risk and fail than do nothing.
I’d rather step out on the water and do something no one’s ever done before than watch from my seat in the boat.
I’d rather follow with a bold heart than be faint of heart and relatively safe in my comfort zone.
You see, taking risks isn’t foolish when we’re simply doing our best to trust and obey. Taking risks is the way we grow and get stretched, and it’s the way we learn to be wiser.
In case you’re wondering, wise isn’t always synonymous with safe.
As I read the Scriptures, it seems, in fact, that God often called people to take crazy risks that were anything but safe.
By the way, the church we started when I was 45 was Eastpoint, and it has impacted thousands of lives. However, no life has been more changed than mine over all these years, and it all started with a crazy risk.
Fifteen years later, I live with the reality that I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my time at Eastpoint, but I also live with no regrets about starting a new church. Absolutely none.
Someone once asked me, “What would you do if you knew you could do anything and it would not fail?” I’m not sure that’s the best question, and it may border on silliness because we all fail.
Maybe the better question is, “What risks are you willing to take for Jesus—recognizing that failure is a very real possibility—but knowing that when God is in the mix, failure is never the end of the story?”
Adventure doesn’t come unless you’re willing to be a little crazy for Jesus sometimes.
I am not fighting windmills; I’m living the abundant life!
How about you?
Kurt Bubna is the senior pastor of Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, Washington, a regional purpose-driven director (Saddleback Church) and the author of the book Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot. This post was originally published on KurtBubna.com.