Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Warning: Risk Aversion Ahead

Our lust for certainty could kill us all. A quick glance through the Bible shows us that there are very few guarantees in this life – following Christ could get you healed or could get you killed – could get you out of prison with a miraculous story, or locked away for years before being executed – could land you in immense wealth or enslaving poverty. You just don’t know. That seems to be one of the major points of the last section of Hebrews. But what you DO know is that, in laying everything out there and following Him, you will find Him – and that will be enough. Moses summed it up when He said to God, “If you’re not going with us… I don’t want to go.” Success or Failure, as the world and even the church grants them, are mirages. What really matters is only this: Has Christ brought us to this place and is He pointing us forward. If so, let’s go.

Can you just give me some assurance Lord?
An answer that will hold the weight of doubt?
You see, I’ve known too much to cherish risk:
People hurt
Markets fail
Avalanches kill

So I venture into life
FDIC insured,
Always on trail.

What then this word from You,
It reeks of uncertainty, and risk
“Faith” you say
But I want happy endings.

Your final offer
Never gives a promise
Save that of knowing Christ
As Rock, and Hope

“Is it enough?” You ask
As I prepare to follow.
“Perhaps” I say,
And turn to face the glorious unknown.

Joshua 14:2; I Samuel 14:6


At 18/5/06 15:24, Blogger Nova said...

richard, what compelled you to write this? surely there was something you saw, felt, experienced that led you to share these thoughts on risk aversion. i wonder what it/they was/were. i too have been spending the last several weeks coming back to the theme of risk aversion. thank you for the post.

At 18/5/06 15:39, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

Several things:

1. we're at the crux of our facilities expansion project - and it seems to me that it's both a risk to proceed, and a risk to not proceed. So I'm presently in a position where risk is unavoidable. Why not, then, herald it's merits?

2. I've been in several conversations recently where people shared that they have chosen safety over truth, or safety over obedience, and then regretted their choices later.

3. Middle-age creates a propensity towards a 'preservation paradigm' rather than unfettered obedience. I fight against this continually.

At 18/5/06 17:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have recommended readings/writings/thoughts on religious pluralism?

Your sermons and blog are a blessing.

At 18/5/06 18:54, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

Regarding religious pluralism, I would recommend a book called, "The Gospel in Pluralist Society" by Leslie Newbiggen (sp?). If anyone else has recommendations, please post them here in the commments section for the readers. Thanks

At 19/5/06 00:28, Anonymous muser said...

Greetings Richard, I was referred here only today, so this is my first time on your site. I must confess I am a bit stunned and humbled as I read your post tonight and feel the connecting power, grace, and beauty of the Lord penetrate my see, I was musing just recently with a friend on the disconcerting uncertainty of venturing into unknown territory...feeling the gentle breeze of invitation from the Lord, yet not quite knowing where this journey will lead. On that day, I boldly expressed to my friend my willingness to venture out with the Lord, even with all the apparent risk.... Well, I guess some days have more courage than others....Your words tonight meet me profoundly where I am and are gratefully experienced and received in the blessing of incarnational encouragement....
"What really matters is only this: Has Christ brought us to this place and is He pointing us forward. If so, let's go."
Thank you brother

At 20/5/06 22:39, Anonymous muser said...

By the way, did you mean to reference Joshua 1:2...?
The 1 Samuel 14:6 reference seemed adventurously apt, but I was having difficulty correlating the Joshua 14:2 reference (you listed) at the end of your post, (unless you were metaphorically probing "the lot of our inheritance"...?) Can you clarify?

At 22/5/06 09:11, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommended reading on pluralism. Author's spelling is Lesslie Newbigin.


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