Friday, June 11, 2010

A Scary Little Thing Called Risk

Last year, I was talking to a friend about money, faith, risk, trust, heresy (the prosperity gospel) and the Kingdom of God. During our conversation he told me that he had been saving his money in various ways. Primarily, he was stashing money away in his 401K as well as keeping a savings account in which he had built a sizable cushion – enough to keep him going for some time if he were to ever find himself out of work.

He went on to tell me that a number of his friends had recently lost their jobs due to the economic downturn. Without even missing a beat, he said that he felt like God was telling him to use his savings to start paying his friends rents and mortgages. His words were, "All this time, I thought I was saving this money for my own crisis, only to realize that the money wasn't supposed to just sit there when other people were in need."

Fast forward to 2 months ago. Same friend. Same type of conversation. This time, he mentioned to me that he had greatly reduced the amount of money that he was dumping into his 401K so that he would have more cash at his disposal to actually give away.

I've been wrestling a lot lately with what it means to actually follow God with my life and with my money. What it really looks like to take risk and to trust him.

Here are some of the thoughts and questions that I have been wrestling with:

If all of the current resources that I have really belong to God, then should I be more pro-active in asking him how to use them? Instead of asking God how he can help me save more, should I first be asking him where I can give more?

If Jesus says, "Follow after me and I'll take care of everything else", when, exactly, should I start doing this? Do I start taking risk after I feel like my 401K has enough money in it? Do I decide to start giving money away once I’m feeling secure in my savings? Or my house is paid off?

If the life of the future lived in the present by God’s people is one of generosity, then why am I not more generous?

I've realized over this last year that I used to be a lot more generous. Then I became a lot more careful. For the past couple of years, I have been very focused on planning and saving. Trying to put myself in position to have all of my bases covered so that one day, I can finally have enough, finally relax....and then.....I can really start to be generous and follow after the things God is asking me to do.

Don't get me wrong....I think saving is smart and I think it can also be good stewardship. At the same time, I wonder these days, when Jesus said,”Follow me, put me first and I’ll take care of the rest…” Did he actually mean that we should follow him and literally trust that he would work everything else out?

I fully comprehend these ideas with my head, but recently, I’ve realized that I really do get a wonderful sense of security from the amount of money that I have in my bank accounts (or anxiety from lack thereof). The interesting thing is, when I think about God’s call to follow and trust him, it seems like the only ones who ever get to really find out if he was serious when he said he would take care of everything else, are the ones who take risks to follow him.

The thing is - risk is really scary for me. But lately, I’m realizing (again) that this Jesus following life…a true, authentic, Jesus following life is probably supposed to be lived more in the world of risk and trust than it is safety and stability.

So, how about you? Have you ever wrestled with the risk and trust vs. safety and stability issue?

How much comfort and safety do you receive from stuff?

If you are a Jesus follower, have you asked him lately where he might want you to risk something?