Risk, chance and change embrace and spar with one another in a sometimes frenzied martial dance across a person’s life. Properly understanding each of these elements, and their place in one’s life, maximizes good decision making. Even more, such an understanding promotes spiritual growth.
Risk is simply the possibility of injury, harm or loss. It’s a negative term, and is never used in a positive light. Think about how it is always cast. There’s a risk we could lose the farm. There’s a risk he’ll die in the battle. There’s a risk the stock prices will plummet. No matter how you think about it, risk is always framed as injury, harm, or loss. Chance on the other hand is a neutral term. It simply means the possibility of something happening. That something could be good, or it could be bad. But more often than not, we bias it in a mildly positive way. Again, think about how it is usually cast. There’s a chance I might win if I just try. There’s a chance she’ll say yes. There’s a chance our efforts will succeed.
Some kind of change is always the fruition of either risk or chance. If you risk the farm and lose it, your life will change greatly if you depend on that farm for sustenance. If you take the chance and win the girl, your intimate life will change. If you die in the battle, but your team accomplishes the mission because of your risk, then the war may be won and change everyone’s life. The trick to all of it is assessing the level of risk, and the possibility of positive change. If there are three people drawing from a hat of three straws to win 1 million dollars, and each straw costs one dollar then take the risk. Pay the dollar. Your loss is negligible. Negative change is imperceptible. Your potential gain is life changing. That’s an extreme, hyperbolic example, of course. But it illustrates the ultimate risk involved in most spiritual decisions facing sincere followers of Christ. Romans 8:28-29 tells us that all things work together for good so that followers of Christ can become more like him. 1 John 5:13 tells us that followers of Christ have eternal life.
The truth is that ultimate risk is an illusion. We can’t see the future, and we don’t really understand the omnipotent power of God, so we have a perception of risk. God on the other hand, sees and knows everything. He mitigates all risk to zero in the end. This is why Paul was able to suffer a horrific, near death stoning, then get up from that stoning and walk back into the town where a fickle people had just stoned him (Acts 14:19-23). He knew that the risk of earthly loss was inconsequential compared to the glories of heaven, and the potential for advancing the gospel, and thereby rescuing the world of men for the Kingdom of God.
What perceptions about your risks have stunted your spiritual growth, and keep you from doing the things that God has called the followers of Jesus to do?