"And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you." 1 Corinthians 15:30-31
The Apostle Paul never was one to play life safely as most people would define safety. His was a life of high risk by the world's standard. But, what about God's standard?
As someone who's spent most of my professional career managing risk, God has been speaking to my heart about what risk really means in His world, so I found Paul's life and these words in 1 Corinthians worth a closer look and a deeper dive.
At about 49 years of age when penning these words in 1 Corinthians, Paul was no stranger to danger. Possibly a Hellenistic Jew, a Pharisee, and a Roman citizen, he had spent the first 30 years of his life persecuting the followers of Jesus from Jerusalem to Damascus and anywhere else he could find them. That sounds like pretty risky business to me. Anything having to do with people is risky. Being the zealous personality that he was, it probably never occurred to Paul to be wrong. If I'm honest, I am like that, too, sometimes.
Then one fateful day on the road to Damascus, God chose Paul. Our Lord blinded Paul with a bright light and spoke to him, asking him why he continued to persecute His people. Three days later, God gave Paul new vision--literally and figuratively. Now he would seek to proclaim the truth about Jesus. He would join the winning team. But, this was pretty risky for Paul, too, because the winning team was skeptical and terrified of this new Christian.
But, Paul was not deterred. As he began to prove His love for Jesus by proclaiming the Good News to people everywhere and from all walks of life, he also began to experience the kind of persecution he had inflicted on others. He was beaten, whipped, chained, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and chased by wild animals. He didn't always have clear direction about where he should be going. But, he went. And many times God gave the direction along the way. That's pretty bold and risky.
Or, is it?
In the play-it-safe world of risk management, I've come to realize that following Jesus WHEREVER He leads is the only real way to safely receive His blessing. It's actually not risky at all to live like that. The risky way is to sit back on our laurels waiting to be blinded on our own road to Damascus and not do anything--to be the armchair quarterback that never touches the pigskin. We may miss out on the hazards this way, but we also miss out on the miracle of knowing God, Himself.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 gives us a peek into Paul's risky world, "We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us."
I don't want to miss God. Do you?
Proverbs 20:24 says, "The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?"
If you ask me, that's what Paul did and I want to do that, too.
Wanna come along?