There are some situations in life where being purely practical just isn’t going to cut it. I know I run the risk of stirring the pot here (and that’s what the comment field below is for), but when you’ve lived a good portion of the last six years “out of the boat” so to speak, you start to understand that there are going to be moments when you’ve tried every good idea and it’s time for a “God idea.” God is practical, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes the rationale of a strategy can only be perceived as practical to us after the fact – when we can look back and connect the dots.
I’m a CPA, a certified Type A personality and a rigorous organizer. In my last job I primarily designed efficient tax and accounting process for a multi-billion dollar company. I spent the majority of my days asking loads of questions about how people did their jobs and what their desired objectives were. I had to be sure we thought of every possible scenario before we designed processes to insure any person working in a particular function would find their way to the desired outcome in the most efficient way possible. This process is referred to as “risk management.” Businesses spend thousands of hours and billions of dollars each year planning risk out of their operations.
But sometimes risk management doesn’t work so well when you take it home from the office. I’m sure that back in the days of the Old Testament, Joseph didn’t see that ditch coming. He didn’t see Potiphar’s wife or jail coming either. I’m sure Mary didn’t see a virgin birth in her future before Gabriel came for a visit. And let’s just stop for a moment to be thankful that the disciples hadn’t implemented an air-tight risk management system around Jesus during the time of his ministry. He may not have ever made it to the cross! Practical risk management on a human scale may mitigate perceived risk, but it may also eliminate the most desired outcomes.
Thankfully we have a God who knows our frame and is mindful of how we are made (Psalm 103:14). Because of this, there are three things I count on from God when I start to spin about managing the risk in my life and whether I’m choosing the right practical strategy:
(1) God is Good. All the time. Whenever we desire a good result our first move should always be to look to God, and ask him for wisdom and direction. We should trust him, listen to him and do what he says. The Bible says that Jesus only did what he saw and heard the Father doing, and he wound up walking out the perfect life. Because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have the same ability to receive direction from the Father and to carry it out. Most times these directions will be very practical. Sometimes they won’t – think Jesus spitting into dirt and rubbing it on a blind man’s eyes or Moses throwing a stick into a stream to make the water drinkable.
(2) As we start to move, God will direct us and make course corrections. Sometimes when God tells us to do something that doesn’t line up with the most practical thing we could do, we are hesitant to begin. We may envision a bad outcome and since we’re already not comfortable with the suggested route, we stand still. But if we begin to move as we hear the word, we will hear the voice of the Lord from behind us saying, “This is the way you should go,” and he will also course correct us to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21).
(3) If we get it wrong, God doesn’t abandon us. He helps us find a way back. One of my favorite verses right now is Isaiah 41:10 in the Amplified where God says, “Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Stepping out in faith can be confusing and sometimes it’s hard to know if we got the step exactly right. But this verse tells me that God is always with me and he will help me, even when I don’t know that I need the help. He is always for me and he will do everything he can to get me where I’m going safely and victoriously.
I’ve come to learn that faith in God is the best risk management tool you can have. Faith sees risk and answers it with the myriad promises of God, all of his strength and the entirety of his Heavenly army. And that kind of faith doesn’t only work at home in our private lives; it works in the marketplace as well. But that’s another post for another day.
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