“How do your spell faith?”
I’m not sure when I first heard someone ask that question. On that first occasion I think I probably said, “F A I T H”, even if only in my head. But the question is a trick. The answer is, “R I S K!” When we trust (have faith) we are free to take risks. Big risks? Little risks? When someone asks us to do something that we feel is a risk, if we trust them, believe they care for us, think they know what they are doing, we steal our nerves, and have a go.
I was thinking about this morning. There are many things that we can do in a day that are little acts of faith. Acts of trust in God. Little risks, that are expressions of believing that God is with us. Small acts of obedience that are based on the facts that God loves us and has shown us, both in Scripture and through prompts from his Holy Spirit, the things we should (or could) do.
Once thinking, I thought I should jot down a few possible “little risks” I might take… and challenge myself to try to go for one a day… or every other day … or once a week… or… sometime!?
1) People risks
People can be scary. Relationships and friendships are more or less important to us. Some of us are more extrovert and find people less scary. Some of us are introverts and never know how to start a conversation, or to keep one going. The more we have spent time without investing in friendships, the harder it is to have the courage to start new ones. If that’s you, maybe its time to take a little risk. The risk could be to send an email, or make a phone call, or whatsapp someone, and say something friendly! “Just thinking of you and would love to catch up, find out how you are doing and how you’ve got on through lock down.” What’s the worst that can happen?
2) “Thank you” risks
Being thankful is remarkably good for mental health. Saying thank you doubles that benefit. Very few people reject a thank you. Even if they don’t want to spend time with you, people are made to feel better by a thank you. It can something simple like thanking for Mum, Dad or spouse for thoughtfully making tea at the right time. It can be remembering someone who influenced your life for good many years ago and sending them a message. It is a little risk, as maybe they don’t remember you, but sending a message like this is sure to make their day.
3) “Sorry” or “I Forgive you” risks
These are hard. Both have the danger that the other person will not hear you or return the sentiment. The problem is that most of us who say “Sorry” to someone want them to say, “I’m sorry too.” But they don’t always. Most of us who persuade themselves to say, “I forgive you” want the other person to then receive that forgiveness and the relationship to be healed. But often that doesn’t work out. Real apologies and real forgiveness is always given without obligating the other person to respond in a particular way. The apology or the forgiveness is right whatever the response, so first resolve to set free to respond how they wish, then go ahead and say the word.
The worst ones are when someone says, “I forgive you” and the other person never realised they had done anything wrong, so the “I forgive you” comes across as an accusation. So never tell someone they are forgiven unless they already know you need to!
So, yes, these words are a risk. But is there someone you should say “Sorry” to? Is there someone you should say “I forgive you” to?
4) Financial risks
Is there someone or some organisation you could give some money to? Do you feel prompted to? I’m not suggesting giving money you don’t have. I may be suggesting this “little risk” might be a bit scary or a bit painful in your wallet. But is it the right thing to do today? I’m just wondering if a little risk in this area could change you day. It is remarkable how God blesses the generous. He seems to bless those who are not afraid of having too little money. Who give a little of what they feel they need to help others who are desperately in need. Its amazing how, after you give, you feel better. Feel free.
5) Creative risks
Even writing this blog is a “little risk” for me. I hate writing anything that other people don’t love. For others it is the same with writing or singing a song. For others, they long to make a piece of art or write a poem that will thrill those who see it. Or bake a cake? Or make bread? Or learn to play a simple song on the guitar? Or make a youtube clip? They get started, and halfway through, have cold feet. What happens if I finish this and nobody likes it? Better not to finish it? Or if I finish it, hide it away. But hey… God made you creative. Create. Create something that makes you feel alive. What does it matte what others think. Some poetry is awful. Some paintings are amateurish. Who cares? If something is worth doing or saying, it is worth doing as well as you can, even if not up to the standards of the critics. Better to be alive and let your colours show. Even if only the Angels and your Father in Heaven get what you are doing, at least they applauded.
6) Exercise risks
I said little risks. The key to getting healthier is to do something, but never overdo it. What can you do that is a little more than you would have done without taking a little risk. Your body is important and the better you look after it the better it will serve you. Getting healthier is incremental. A short walk each day? It can change you. It gets you outside. The biggest problem people have with exercise is deciding to do nothing because all they can do today will not make them the way they want to be in 2 weeks’ time. But you can do the little thing today, whether or not you will be totally fit in two weeks’ time. And with health, even the little you can do can make a big difference, both straight away, and eventually.
7) Intellectual risks
I look at some books and think, “I will never understand that” and so leave it on the shelf. Or see a question in a test, and immediately decide I don’t know the answer, and panic rather than starting to think. Or start talking to a clever person and think they will think I am stupid, so stop talking.
Take a little risk. If you are prompted to read something, read it, even if you have to read ever line 4 times. If someone is very clever, ask a question, that always make you look more intelligent. If there is a quest5ion in a test in front of you, assume this is at your level and don’t panic. You have a wonderful brain. Don’t run away from using it. Give your brain all the information it needs and see if it can work out the answer for you. It may take longer than other people’s brains, maybe even after a little sleep! But every time something makes sense that used to be a mystery you have grown.
8) Resting risks
What happens when you stop and rest? Do you panic?
If so, you need to start pausing to rest!
Resting, in the Bible, is an expression of trust. The Sabbath was counter intuitive for people who knew they needed to work to make a living. So, the more you panic about your need to keep working the more you need to deliberately set aside times to rest, stop, and trust!
9) Prayer risks
“I don’t want to pray about that because, if I do, God will probably ignore me, and then I will be disappointed.” Please leave this self-counsel behind. Pray about everything. Start today with a few things that scare you. Keep you eyes open to see if God does something. I know he will. Often he does something not expected or not in the timescale you had demanded or something that isn’t quite what you meant. After all, his ways are not your ways. But recognise that he did hear and he did do something. Little risks lead to little miracles. Then your faith will grow, and you will pray more. You will be surprised where that could lead.
10) Volunteering risks
Offering to help. You know you want to. Putting you self forward and saying you are willing. Sometimes people no thank you. Some organisations really don’t need your help at the moment (or just don’t have the system in place to make it possible) but…. keep offering. It’s a risk. If someone says, “Not now, but thank you,” do not take that as a rejection! Take it as a win. You offered and still you didn’t have to do anything. You were not offering for you. You were offering for them. Your offer should not obligate them.
All of these little risks are really prayer risks. I am not suggesting you take any risks that the Holy Spirit is not prompting. I am simply saying that the Holy Spirit is prompting… in one way or another. He always prompts us to faith, rather than fear. He always prompt us to love and give ourselves, rather than to just shrink back within ourselves.
A turtle cannot move forward without first sticking its head out. Stick your head out a little and have a little faith. Take a little risk. Today?