How risk averse are you? Do you let fear of the unknown dictate how you live? Or have you mastered the capacity of placing fear aside, learning to trust the unknown?
Fear paralyzes us more than any other emotion, making us play it safe in order to avoid danger or punishment. And fear can lead to our downfall, which is exactly what happens to the third slave. He fears his master, and this fear penetrates his ability to use the gift that has been given to him. The only option he can imagine is to hide his talent in the ground until the master returns, a decision that leads to his demise. How often does your fear prevent you from taking a risk?
The wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer greets every visitor arriving at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum. “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Visitors are then encouraged to “live like a hero.”
Heroes do not allow fear to dictate their lives. Rather, they trust that a fullness of joy awaits them when they love, advocate, and serve with reckless abandonment. Many courses in history would not have changed if people had always played it safe. We needed the risky behavior of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu to show us a different reality where justice and joy are doubled.
Jesus rarely invites us to play it safe. To love another person is risky because we do not know if we’ll be loved in return. To forgive another person is risky because we do not know if we’ll be hurt even more. But we will never know the fullness of joy without taking these risks. “Enter into the joy of your master.”
Risk-taking God, may we be risky like you! Amen.
In the book of Judges, we find a woman confidently leading a patriarchal nation as though it were an everyday occurrence. The psalm reminds us that the need for mercy reduces each and every one to a posture of outstretched hands and upturned eyes. To sing such a song on the way to worship, as was traditionally done, is to prepare the mind and heart for the possibility of whatever blessing may be given upon arrival. In First Thessalonians we overhear an apostle’s exhortation to live openly and expectantly regarding God’s future revelation—alert to the coming of Christ but also aware that Christ may come in sudden and unanticipated ways. Finally, a parable in Matthew runs counter to our instincts to safeguard that which we treasure, challenging us to consider the ways in which faithfulness involves a strange coupling of risk and reward.
• Read Judges 4:1-7. Reread the last paragraph of Monday’s meditation and reflect on the writer’s two questions.
• Read Psalm 123. How do you address God? Is God more “enthroned above” for you, or “right here in [your] midst”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. The writer states, “We stay awake each time we practice acts of love and mercy.” When have you felt divinely awakened by an act of love?
• Read Matthew 25:14-30. Identify ways you take risks in your life presently. Do any of these risks relate to living out your faith?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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