True Story from a few years back…
In the fall we take part of the corn field behind our house out for silage to feed cattle during the winter months. Prior to this I typically walk my dogs down a nearby country road on leash. But when the field is opened up, I give them the treat of being off leash, which they love. Who doesn’t love freedom after all? I have faith the dogs will come back to momma when they go off exploring in the field or waterway, because they have proven trustworthy in this regard. Our lab Ali, loved to follow her nose. But she could have cared less about chasing birds or small creatures. Now Bandit, our beagle something mix, is the exact opposite and if he spots a bird or critter, he is OFF in hot pursuit.
Late one fall evening we took off in the field. We got to the other side where there is a grassy waterway and our typical turn around spot. Ali and I start back while Bandit heads up the waterway a piece where the still standing corn takes him out of my field of vision. I figure he will catch up and Ali and I keep walking. Suddenly, I hear him barking and turn around to see this short, thirty-pound dog chasing a full-grown doe. He is in full pursuit mode and both are headed for the fence next to the railroad tracks. So, I think to myself, ” Deer will leap the fence, dog will turn around and come back.” Lab and I keep walking toward home. After a few minutes I turn back to see what is happening next and low and behold the beagle is running back up the waterway…. with a buck in hot pursuit of him!!! My next thought is, “He got himself into this, he’ll get himself out. ”
Faith is a risky business. It is really trust in action; trusting in something that you can’t see as the writer of Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
That little dog chased that deer because he had not a single doubt in the God who created him. Who created him to be, a pursuer of other critters! No matter the size. He didn’t stop for a minute to get my blessing for chasing that doe. He didn’t think about the fact he weighed 200 lbs. less than the other animal, he followed the deep calling of his DNA to hunt.
The flip side of faith is the risk part of the deal. He wasn’t expecting the buck. Faith and risk are directly connected with one another.
Faith means not being able to see around the corner, yet trusting in the Power greater than you to see you through. Listen closely, commitment is involved here. There must be a buy into something, right? It is said that faith is courage that has said its prayers which means there is an action step required on our part, which is the buy in or faith. Stay with me…the Bible is full of examples of regular folks, against all odds stepping out in faith and having, well, simply miraculous results! Think of the story of David and Goliath for example. David was a young adult and he had gone to the battlefield to take lunch to his older brothers who were part of King Saul’s army. He was hanging out there when he heard Goliath hurling insults at the Israelite army. He, like my dog Bandit, never thought twice, he had long ago placed his trust God. For David it was a matter of acting on that already established faith. He had already placed his faith, which gave him the courage to take the risk.
Now think about this. You know how mean older siblings can sometimes be. David had just announced he was going to go kill the enemy’s giant soldier; the one who terrified the best of the king’s men. With a slingshot, no less. He had to take a lot guff from them. Not only them but likely others in the army too. It took faith and courage for him to take the risk of doing what GOD wanted him to do and not to buckle under pressure, caring more what his family and friends thought. You see, he knew that the battle was Gods, not his and that God was going before him. That is the substance of faith in God. The knowing, the certainty.
We know how the story ends. The giant face plants dead in the dirt at David’s hand.
It is not easy to step out of our comfort zones into where Jesus is. Freedom is the most difficult and paradoxical gift God gave to humans and the most important. We must be free to choose or reject God, because love by compulsion isn’t love at all, it is being a robot. Freedom and change are scary and faith is a risky business because we may just turn into the person God created us to be. The alternative is robbing ourselves of an amazing opportunity if we cling only to what is safe out of fear. Let me ask you, how big is your God? When we take risk firmly grounded in truth and step out into the unknown it means giving up managing outcomes. Every time I place my faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ the end result is far better than anything than I could have imagined, dreamed or manipulated on my own. Which is a good deal, a God deal.
Back to the dog story.
So, I took a risk, letting them run off leash means I could lose them. But for them it means freedom and exploration and to me it was worth the risk. Now I faced losing that little dog. I said a prayer and trusted he could out run the buck and his antlers and find his way home.
And he did. Panting and tired he emerged from the cornfield just about the same time we got to the edge of our lawn.
And I am pretty sure he was smiling.
Faith, it’s a risky business.
Be joy filled always,