Joshua 1: 6-9
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
Matthew 14: 25-33
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
‘Come,’ he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
“A choice lies before you: Either waste your life or live with risk. Either sit on the sidelines or get in the game. After all, life was no cakewalk for Jesus, and he didn’t promise it would be any easier for his followers. We shouldn’t be surprised by resistance and persecution. Yet most of us play it safe. We pursue comfort. We spend ourselves to get more stuff. And we prefer to be entertained.” (John Piper)
John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement, famously said: “Faith is spelt R-I-S-K.” In a world where the most adventure many men get is through playing video games and where the best-selling chair is the La-z-boy, we need to be men and women who are radically bold, courageous and passionate for the sake of the Kingdom. The world needs Christians who are willing to risk everything, surrendering our perceived right to comfort and security, for the spread of the Gospel.
No less than three times in a four verses God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. God is communicating that to do what He is calling Joshua to do is going to be terrifying, if not seemingly impossible. It was a task that 40 years before had overwhelmed a whole generation of Israelites and their fear kept them out of the Promised Land. They refused to risk and missed out on such a great reward.
It’s the same for us. While there is always a risk in taking a bold step of faith into something new, there is also a risk in playing it safe. We miss out on the adventure that following Jesus was always meant to be, we don’t experience the abundant life Jesus promised, and we fail to see God move powerfully and supernaturally on our behalf.
In Matthew 14 Peter was the only one of the disciples who dared step out from the safety of the boat during a fierce storm. He may have been overwhelmed and started to sink, but at least he was willing to risk it all to walk towards Jesus. He was the only one of the twelve who knew what it was to take a few steps on the roaring waves, he was the only one who was lifted up by the hand of Jesus, he was the only one who experienced supernatural power.
I don’t want to grow old and harbour regret about a life that I could have lived if I had only trusted God more. I want to reflect on my life with the knowledge that I risked it all, spent all I had and poured out my everything for the glory of Jesus and the spread of His Gospel.
I don’t want to experience what one writer calls ‘The Common Cold of the Soul’. This is how he describes it:
It’s the sinful patterns of behaviour that never get confronted and changed.
Abilities and gifts that never get cultivated and deployed-
Until weeks become months
And months turn into years,
And one day you're looking back on a life of deep intimate, gut-wrenchingly
honest conversations you never had;
Great bold prayers you never prayed
Exhilarating risks you never took,
Sacrificial gifts you never offered.
And you're sitting in a recliner with a shrivelled soul,
And forgotten dreams,
And you realize there was a world of desperate need,
And a great God calling you to be part of something bigger than yourself-
You see the person you could have become but did not;
You never followed your calling.