I am very happy to introduce my very own father, Michael Ring, to the world of blogging with this guest post.
He is a retired minister, who writes often and preaches occasionally. The below is a part of a message that he had written, right around the same time that I had written my post on Why You Need to Start Taking Risks Now. Some may call it coincidence, we think it is much more than that. We are both ready to start taking risks, and start taking action.
Without any further ado-
Give Your All
“People thought Fred Smith was crazy when he came up with an idea for an overnight package company in 1973. As a college student at Yale, he described the concept for his economics professor, but I read that his paper came back with a “C” scrawled on top and with scribbling in the margins explaining why the idea would never literally ‘get off the ground.’
But Smith believed in his project, and at age 28, he risked the inheritance from his dad to put together a small fleet of corporate jets and launch his company under the name Federal Express. The first night only six packages were handled, one of them a birthday gift that Smith himself was sending to a friend! But the guy persevered, Federal Express of course became FedEx, and he wound up creating an entirely new multi-billion industry in overnight package delivery!
What motivates people such as Fred Smith to take a risk like that? What leads any of us to take a risk, whether it’s opening a new business, accepting a different job, starting college, getting married, moving to a new part of the new country, or establishing a new routine?
When people take risks, they stretch out beyond what they think they can do, in order to reach a goal. And we as Christians take a risk every time we pray and seek God’s will for our lives. Usually risk-taking involves overcoming some sort of fear–fear of the unknown, humiliation, and especially fear of failure.
But faith and risk are intertwined: as we reach out in faith and seek to be true disciples of the Master, we are taking risks–but we are also convinced that God is God and that He can be trusted!
One author has commented on this, “We risk most when we pray…for when we come to realize that there is actually Someone on the receiving end of our prayers–the God of the universe who wants us to grow and mature and develop and learn–then prayer becomes a great adventure; and then we’re on to something special.”
One of my favorite passages in the OT is Jer. 29:11-14; let me read it, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”
And James 4:6-10 comments: “But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
In that light, when we take risks of faith, when we reach out in trust to the Lord God, and when we submit ourselves to God and come near to Him–we can state without reservation, God delights to hear us, and He wants only our best! Sure, there is a real risk–but that the risk is worth it all!
And that describes our 3rd practical step in developing a vibrant relationship with God!
God wants us to take the giant risk first of placing our trust in Him for salvation, but also trusting Him for the rest of our lives! And He desires that we give our heart, and our all, to Him–out of gratitude for all He has done!
But does that describe your heart? And mine?
I read a true story about a man who prayed a powerful prayer and was willing to take a calculated risk as God answered it!
His name is Yuri, and a few years ago, because of his faith in Christ, he was sent to a remote Siberian labor camp, and was isolated from all other Christians. One of his deepest prayers was to enjoy fellowship with sisters and brothers in Christ, and especially he longed to share communion at the Lord’s Table.
Shortly after praying one night, he was awakened by a stranger who said, ‘get up and come with me.’ He got up and followed the man through door after door, until he realized that he was outside the barracks and soon beyond the outskirts of the camp itself.
When they reached the road, the stranger disappeared. Yuri started walking toward a nearby village–and before long, he heard singing, entered a house and discovered a midnight prayer session! The people were singing, studying Scripture, and taking part in the Lord’s Supper. And Yuri was overwhelmed and overjoyed!
But later, all at once, he sensed an urgent prodding from within–so he said his good-byes, shared some hugs, and retraced his steps back to camp. The guard at the 1st checkpoint was asleep, but when awakened, he let Yuri in without a word. The same thing happened at the 2nd checkpoint; and he walked through all the doors and corridors of the place, climbed back into his bed, and wrapped up in his blanket.
Less than a minute later, the director of the camp appeared at Yuri’s bedside, looking very surprised. Someone had discovered his disappearance and reported it to the authorities. As they were looking for him, the director decided to check it out for himself. But he found Yuri right where he was supposed to be, in his own bed, under the covers! The guy didn’t ask him any questions, but only excused himself, found the guard who had reported him missing, and punished that man for creating a false alarm!
I don’t know about you, but stories like that put a smile on my face–yet also give me goose bumps! Still, I am given hope that the prayers of my heart may be answered as well–but that I also need to be ready to take risks and surrender my will to God!
OK, let’s get serious about this: how does this happen? What does trusting God with all our heart look like? Well–
We give Christ our all: when we worship on Sundays and throughout the week, and focus on our majestic God. Every time we turn to Him, we as God’s people are to come with a heart filled with adoration to Him! In our songs of praise, our prayers, as we listen and respond to the message, and in our heart attitude, we are to rejoice in who He is and all that He has done!
We give Him our all: when we carry out Jesus’ command as He summed up the entire OT–to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And then, love our neighbor as our selves.
We give Him our all: as we do what we can to minister God’s love to every person we meet. Remember this: our neighbor, according to Jesus Himself, is not merely our friend or acquaintance, he or she is anyone God places in our lives!
We give Him our all: when we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, with no holding back. That may well lead us to be inconvenienced, to take risks, and may cause us to even sacrifice our lives for others!
We give Christ our all: as we seek with all our heart to be the best husband or wife, or son, daughter, parent or grandparent that we can be, by the grace of God!
And we give Christ our all: when we unreservedly and wholeheartedly commit our lives to Him. After all, if we believe that God is the Lord God, our Creator, Savior, and Redeemer–then He deserves all our worship, our trust, and our entire lives!
Let me suggest a risky prayer for people of faith in Christ. It is a prayer that invites God to walk with us in our daily lives:
“Lord God, here I am, I commit my heart to You. Help me to comprehend your holiness and your majesty, but also your love and your grace to sinners like me. And then use me as you have never used me before! Use me to be a messenger of hope, to influence a young person positively, to be the solution to someone’s problem, to feed someone who is hungry, to love a person who is unloved, or to be the answer to someone’s prayer. Use me Lord to encourage one who is desperate, to ease another’s loneliness, to deepen a friend’s faith, to help a broken person know that God loves them; and help me Lord to be your eyes and ears and hands and feet in a world that needs you more and more each day.”
My brothers and sisters. Without a doubt, that is a risky prayer! And it is quite a challenge!
But it gets me fired up! What about you?
I am convinced that God will answer a sincerely offered prayer like that, today and for the rest of our lives!
But it is not enough for you and I to give Him just an hour of our time on Sunday morning, or relatively few moments loving Him or serving Him from Monday to Saturday!
God wants our heart. And our life! This day. Tomorrow. And every day!
I believe it is time for us to give Christ our all!
Michael Ring is married and a father to five, and grandfather to five. His claim to fame is that he is the biological father of the “Fiber Guardian” himself. He has a passionate interest in history, especially the Civil War. Admittedly he is an unwavering fan of the New England Patriots, and thoroughly enjoys reading and playing tennis. He has a genuine desire to gain information regarding fiber and to respond in a way to ensure that I live a more healthy life.”
Superbly put – risk-taking is so intertwined with faith. Saying “use me for your purposes” to the Divine is setting ourselves up for a roller coaster ride – but what a fun ride it is!