Fear and risk are two peas in a pod.

In light of my last post, it goes without saying that I don’t like risk. For this reason, I’ve given it the following acronym: Really Intense Side Kicks (to the kidneys).

In UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), when fighters take shots to the kidneys, they either collapse, keep moving in a semi-delirious state, or attack with a surprising ferocity.

More often than not, when it comes to taking risks in life’s Octagon, I call a timeout.

On one hand, I embrace my risk-aversion tendencies; they’re naturally built into my introverted, practically-minded, Type A, Germanness. My levelheadedness has preserved me from bad decisions, charted a well-balanced life, established fulfilling relationships, and has helped me achieve numerous goals.

On the other hand, I dislike my risk-aversion tendencies. As with most facets of our personality, our greatest strengths can be our greatest weaknesses. If I dig deep, the root of my risk aversion is a fear of failure. I fear missing the mark; unless success is guaranteed, unless a favorable result is promised, I’m rarely interested in the undertaking. Defeat is uncomfortable and disappointing; I don’t like it, nor do I like the emotion that tags along with it. I thrive on predictability and stability; the definition of risk is anything but.

Risk feels monumental because the outcome is so uncertain. This is why it feels like Really Intense Side Kicks (to the kidneys).

Again, last Sunday’s sermon prompted a reorientation of my perspective.

As quoted in the sermon, according to Dr. Ralph D. Winter (a Presbyterian missionary):

Risk is not to be evaluated in terms of the probability of success but by the value of the goal.*

Considering I only evaluate risk in terms of probability of success, rather than the merit of the objective, this quote caused some dissonance.

As I sat in my chair, reflecting on Scripture’s storyline, I realized that it’s not a “how to live a failure-free life by avoiding all risk” manual. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

The Bible is full of failure and risk. Characters who miss the mark, but who are still loved and used by God, adorn the pages of the Old and New Testament. God’s people continuously try and fail. While some cower in defeat, others get up, and try again.

Scripture’s full of failure and risk, because it’s inspired by a risk-taking God.

While I wasn’t there at Creation, I’m guessing God didn’t whip out a CBA (Cost-Benefit Analysis) before commencing the seven days. God didn’t create under the premise that it was only worth it if he achieved a 100% response rating from his Creation. Rather, God risks whether or not he receives this unanimous vote.

He created in love, hoping that this love would prompt his Creation to seek him out, to desire a relationship with him, to experience fullness of life. This was the goal, and for God, it held inherent value. He risked rejection and reached out with no guarantee of reciprocity. Yet, for him, the risk was worth it.

We follow a God who knows what risk means, who knows what it feels like. As we navigate our own lives, may we give ourselves permission to risk and fail, finding inherent worth in the quest, despite the outcome. As we contemplate what risk-taking looks like, may we gaze upon our Model for guidance and direction. May we let him redefine and re-acroynmize risk.

*Bertolero, Benjamin. “Risk Takers, Faith Makers.” Legacy Christian Church. April 26, 2015.