Why are we asking God to remove us from some situation? Is it out of boredom? Is there some opposition that you’re trying to avoid? Is it because we think our current situation is not “important” enough for God to use us?
We look at those that are called to missions, those that give up everything to follow God as the “real” God followers. Those that risked it all, stepped out of the boat and left it all behind, to take that big risk for God by going going somewhere uncomfortable or pursuing a profession that serves others but doesn’t make much money. Those type of people we associate with the front-lines of Christianity. We see those in the news, those are the ones our pastors talk about during their sermons. They are held up as doing critical God’s work and making a difference in God’s kingdom… and they are! They are important to God’s work.
Our society rewards the risk takers, so it’s natural to feel that way.
What is riskier?
But, what if, the riskier thing to do for God is to stay exactly where you are and keep doing what you’re doing until God says otherwise? What if instead of leaping out in faith and hoping for a miracle to happen when we’ve chosen a path that we think God is leading, we really should be standing firm. What if we need to keep at the hard, messy work in which we’re involved.
What if “taking a risk for God” were less about traditional definition of risky and instead about opening our eyes to how God wants us to be right where we are and looking for the positive change we can make around us.
We could be a agent for change in our workplace, in our community or in our family and social circles. We could minister to our neighbors, family and friends. We could help the needy in our own backyards. It could be that “stepping out of the boat”, quitting our job and moving our family across the country or around the world, could be counter to what God really wants us to do.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. — Ecclesiastes 11:6
Risk it all in your own community
I look around my local community. Within 25 miles of me there are close to 1 million people (and I live in a fairly rural area of Ohio actually). According to some polls I’ve seen, approximately 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But no-where near 750,000 people attend church regularly in this area.
According to recent census data, there are ~376000 people living in my county. Of those, 15% live below the poverty level. That’s 56000+ people, many of whom are children. According to recent figures from late summer 2015, there are 4.4% unemployed…and that’s using faulty federal government numbers that do not count those that are not even looking for work. But even at that, there are more than 16000 people looking for work in my county alone.
As you can see, there are many people in need right where I am. Those that I can help right now and right here. Perhaps I can help the homeless in the area. Last Christmas we were able to make an impact for some homeless people right in our own area. This group of individuals have since been removed from their encampment and scattered. One sadly was even found dead on the eve of the eviction under suspicious circumstances. So they are not being loved and helped like the should.
Our local community has an organization of alumni of the local school (Fairless Local Schools) that sponsors, along with some local churches, a group called Fairless Helping Fairless. This organizations do a lot around the community to help low-income residents assistance with food, school supplies, clothing and much more.
Rival schools in the area have in the past turned their annual rivalry football into an opportunity to help those in need through donations to the local food kitchens. I’ve talked about this before in my post (Occupy Charity at Christmas – look about half-way down in that post) This is something that has been a positive thing in our community.
So what if when we pray to God to find our purpose in our lives, God says “Stay! You are right where I want you.” Are you willing to trust and believe that this is God’s will? That He has put you here for a reason, given you the skills and job that you were meant to have? Are you missing the opportunities that God has put before you, because you are always looking for something a bit more risky?
Individuals reading this post…I challenge you, whether you are truly searching for your purpose or not, look around you and see those in need in your area. Look for the homeless that may be living right around the corner under a bridge and you’ve never noticed. Look for the opportunities to help (donate time, money or resources) to your local food pantry or local support group that help those in need. Be a positive force for change in your community or just a quiet someone to talk to.
If you are a leader in a church, this is for you. Missions around the world are important, there is no denying that help is needed everywhere. But don’t forget those that live on the margins in your area. Don’t deny help to the homeless or to the hungry in your area in your pursuit of “greater” missions. God likes to use the insignificant to do his work. Unfortunately, I’ve seen churches deny help or look the other way, because it didn’t fit their “mission”. I challenge the churches in the area, whether small or mega, step up and be an agent for change in your community.
I issue a challenge for myself. I can talk the talk and I have a small, but steady audience here on this blog. But I need to be active in my local community even more than I am to help those on the margins, to help my friends and neighbors (or strangers) that may be in need. I need to walk the walk so to speak.