The word God gave me for 2020 is “Risk”. This was mostly inspired by having just read the book The Heavenly Man, which completely wrecked me for the normal. It’s about Brother Yun, who was a minister in China who was imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and ridiculed for sharing the Gospel. There’s so many parts of his story that challenged me and stuck with me. One of them is his miraculous escape from a high security prison after having been beaten so severely that his legs were useless. God told him to escape the prison and he obeyed, walking through 3 iron doors and the main gate of the prison, all left ajar, without being stopped by any of the guards who were looking right at him. He only realized after he was safely hidden in a believers home that his legs had been completely healed when he stood up to obey.
Here’s what he said about the incident: “I have learned that when the Lord tells us to do something there is no time for discussion or rationale, regardless of the situation we face. When we are sure God has told us to act, as I was on this occasion, blind obedience is called for. Not to obey God implies that we are wiser than him, and that we know better how to run our lives than he does.”
Our ability to step out and take a risk to obey Him is directly correlated with our level of trust in Him. Would your Father ask you to take a risk without ensuring that it would all turn out for your good? Of course not! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I’m inspired by the Heavenly Man to live a life that is not dictated by persecution or fear or the law of the land, but to live a life in complete devotion to Christ alone. I fear that I will step out to do something and fail. Or that I will take a risk for relationship and be rejected. But these are the promises that God gave me in response to my fears: “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].” (Romans 10:11 AMP) Other versions say that he won’t be put to shame.
Then in Isaiah 54 God speaks to the barren and it says,
“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; DO NOT HOLD BACK; lengthen your chords and strengthen your stakes…Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; do not be confounded, for you will not be disgraced… For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Reddemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.” (Isaiah 54:2, 4-5 emphasis mine)
God may be asking you and I to stretch out the stakes of our tent. The boundaries of our comfort zone may be pounded in pretty deep and they may have been there for years. And yet we remain fruitless. This passage is saying that if the barren woman wants children, she better start making room for them. If we want to bring in a harvest of fruit, we better make room for it. We better start redefining the boundaries of what we will and will not do for God. The capacity to which God can use us is only limited by our willingness to be used by Him. Pull out the stakes that defined our limits as we give Him our lives, WITHOUT HOLDING BACK.
Then there’s the promise. Our shame will be forgotten. He won’t leave us standing in a huge empty tent. He will fill it. He becomes our redeemer. Where we had lack before, He brings abundance. Partnering with Him is worth the risk.