Tuesday, November 4, 2003
I don't expect to be inspired when I eat at McDonald's, but recently I got a little inspiration with my burger and fries. There was this striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. "Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Conquest Without Risk."
It doesn't just apply to reaching the top of a mountain - it pretty much describes everything worth doing in life. No risk, no meaningful conquest - a triumph without glory. Low risk, low return. High risk, high return. It's a principle that defines spiritual greatness - or spiritual mediocrity.
In Numbers 13, the conquest wasn't a mountain, it was the taking of the Promised Land that God had promised, but was currently inhabited by fierce people who, of course, didn't plan to hand it over. And whether or not they would ever experience all God had for them depended on whether or not they would trust Him enough to take some big risks. Now whether or not you experience all God has for you may depend on that same thing.
Twelve scouts had explored the land of Canaan, and they reported back on the fabulous beauty and bounty they found there. But ten of those scouts chose to focus on the risks; two of them on the Lord who had promised them this land. It boiled down to an exchange like this, recorded in our word for today in Numbers 13:30 and following.
"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land for we certainly can do it.' But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.' And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, 'The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people there are of great size ... we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.'"
You probably know the result. The people followed the lead of the ten scouts who said, "The risks are too great." And they never saw the Promised Land. They chose what was safe, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Many of God's children over the years have made that same tragic miscalculation. And they have lived the same tragic result.
Right now your Lord may be asking you to follow Him into risky territory. To obey Him is going to mean taking a financial risk, a geographical risk, a social risk, doing something that is way beyond your comfort zone. In fact, serious obedience usually involves risk. But the great danger is not in obeying God's "risky" leading; it is in not obeying because you won't risk it. You'll miss the top of the mountain. You'll miss the best that God has for you.
Maybe you're all settled in at your little base camp at the bottom of the mountain. You're safe, but you'll never see the view from the top if you stay where you've always been. You can dare to risk if you know your security is never in your situation - it is in your Savior, and He's everywhere you go. Like the old hymn says, "Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go" - even if He's leading you where it doesn't look very safe.
The conquest, the triumph, the glory of living for Christ is for those who are willing to risk.