Taking Risks

Have you ever been punched in the gut?  I mean, have you ever taken a punch right in the stomach that you didn’t expect, and been dropped to your knees by it?  Well, I took a gut shot today, spiritually speaking.

At the school where I help out with worship, the speaker today, Andy Giessman, was the offending party as he taught on Daniel 3.  If you’re not familiar with that chapter, you’re surely familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, read it here).
I’ve heard this story since I was a wee lad, but I’ve never thought about it like this.  Andy taught on being a risk-taker for Christ, and he made three points, which I’ll summarize here:
  1. To take risks is to stand out.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego stood out like sore thumbs when they refused to bow and worship the image of gold.  They could have easily bowed down, gone with the crowd, but they didn’t.  When the entire nation (we’re talking thousands of people) was bowing down, they stood tall.  Can you picture that?  
  2. To take risks is to boldly refuse to be seduced by other gods.  Why did they refuse to bow down?  They were strangers in a strange land, far from home and alone.  Who would have known?  God would have have known.  They knew they were risking death by refusing to bow down, yet they refused to even feign that they had turned their backs on the One True God.
  3. When we take risks, we will have the assurance that our actions will reflect God.  For standing up for their God, they were cast into a blazing hot furnace, yet emerged unscathed (the Bible says they didn’t even smell like smoke!) because God delivered them.  By being faithful to God, by believing in Him and standing up to Nebuchadnezzar, those three men were used by God to show His glory.  
As Andy related this story (and believe me, he did an awesome job telling it and getting his points across), I sat their wincing from the blows.  How often do I take risks for my Lord?  How often do I stand up for Him?  I mean, on a given day, how many times do I speak out for Him?  How many times have I shied away from an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone, out of fear of being embarrassed?  And, if I was confronted with “bow down or die” how would I handle THAT?  
And how many other gods do I bow down to?  How many idols have a place in my heart?  And (oh man, when he said this, I couldn’t hardly get up) an idol is the first thing you think of in the morning unless it’s God.  Ouch.  Man, that one hurt.  
Why?
Because the truth hurts sometimes.
And I got nailed with it today.
So here, at the start of the year, I’m trying to cast down my idols.  I want to take risks for Jesus.  I want to stand up for Him, for He laid down His life for me.  And I’m honestly scared to pray this way, because I know He will give me opportunities to live this out.  Yet, what more is there to live for than Him?  And if I have to suffer…gasp!  Humilation for the Name?  So be it. 
God give me the grace to stand for You.  Give us all that grace.
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