‘Faith is spelt R I S K.’
‘No, it’s not!’ My inner grammar pedant is sobbing loudly in a corner. ‘It’s spelt F A I T H, and that’s it, that’s just how it’s spelt!’
I calm said pedant with some chocolate and try to forget the statement. Because I do understand the sentiment. Faith is a risk. It is believing in something you do not see, which is by definition risky.
In the classic film ‘The Last Crusade’ – Indiana Jones reaches a chasm he needs to cross. All logic says to stay put, all gut instinct says to step out. Does he put his faith in what he sees or what he doesn’t? This is Indiana Jones, there wouldn’t be a film if he didn’t take risks, but I remember watching as a child terrified he would fall. Is Indy’s faith rewarded? That would ruin the ending for you, but you can probably guess.
The reason faith is worth it is because it’s risky. Why is jumping out of a plane so exhilarating (apparently)? There’s an element of danger, but the rewards outweigh the risk. Why did I throw myself out of a tree recently (while attached to several ropes with my eyes tightly shut convinced I was going to die)? Partly because it was the only way down, but also because the rewards of achievement were greater than the risk. I put my faith in the wires and caribenas, and trusted that they would hold my weight. I treasure my certificate.
Hebrews 11 talks about the faith of the Old Testament. Barren 90 year olds expecting to give birth, a man joining the ranks of the oppressed rather than remaining in the palace where the power seemed to be positioned, armies walking round walls and waiting for them to fall.
None of these make any earthly sense. And that’s the point. They don’t make earthly sense. They make Godly sense.
But God continues to up the ante on faith. There’s no point at which you’ve finished exercising those muscles.
After Abraham had committed to sacrificing his only son, God didn’t tell him he’d done well and then stop asking him to have faith; He gave him bigger challenges, bigger risks, opportunities to grow his faith further. Alongside this God gave him blessings untold. And He does the same with us.
In working it’s easy to put faith in the money that comes in. I have a dream job that I love. A job that makes my face light up when I talk about it, and where I look forward to work. I’m content, but broke; it’s not a comfortable place. God didn’t jump in with a windfall. I listened to talks on financial advice and prudence and heard God say ‘give an extra 1% now’, when all worldly logic says to cancel the direct debits. It doesn’t make any earthly sense. But if God had given me the money to cushion me, I wouldn’t have had to trust him. The faith and the risk is worth it when the shortfall comes through unexpectedly, from places you’d never have dreamed. This isn’t to say it always works out perfectly because you trust in Him. I’m still pretty broke, and have struggled to step onto that unseen bridge. But it’s built my trust and provides visible proof of God in action. Comfort zones can indeed be comfortable, but how long would they stay like that if we sat there eternally?
It’s so tempting to put faith in worldly goods, in what I know, in what the world expects. But the reason Sarah gave birth to a baby at 90, Moses led an entire people out of oppression and the walls of Jericho fell down is because they stepped out in faith, so why not take the risk?