While living in a small town in northern Tajikistan, I needed to make the 14 hour drive south to the capital city of Dushanbe, about 3 hours north of the Afghan border. The problem was that the mountain pass that stood between us was getting more and more difficult to pass because of the snow. So, I decided to hire a car and a driver whom I understood to have had a lot of experience crossing the dangerous Anzob pass at this time of the year.
Now you have to understand… the roads are often about 5 inches wider than the width of the car… so there is not a lot of room for error here. In fact, in the book, The World’s Most Dangerous Places, this drive was described as one of the most treacherous in the world! Truth is, I’ve done that trip a number of times… either by road or helicopter. But this time was different.
Because of the storm that had just hit us, every attempt to navigate a little further up would leave us sliding a few feet backward. And, because of the many sharp turns, there just wasn’t enough road behind us to keep us from going down! And so, in spite of the freezing temps, I got out of the car and pushed.
After a few futile hours, I needed to take a break. So I decided to get to know a little about the guy who actually had my life in his hands. So I inched over towards him and asked, “So, how long have you been driving people over the pass? How did you get started doing this?” Now, you can imagine the answer I was hoping for. I was hoping he would say something like, “Well, I was aneurosurgeon… but got a little bored so I got a second PhD in road engineering. But after a while I just wanted to hit the road… and drive people on the roads I helped design.”
Unfortunately, that’s not what he said. What he said was that he had been out of work for a long time and that he had gotten in some trouble with the law. And so, having recently crashed his own car, he convinced his uncle to loan him his car so he can start taxiing to make some extra money. His selling point to his uncle was a promise that he’d cut back on his drinking.
And so, in ever-increasing terror, I slowly moved back to my side of the car… and began trying to psyche myself up… “Everything will be just fine! God doesn’t want me to die on this mountain, right?” Not that I had any choice at that point, but the obvious question in my mind was, “Can I trust this driver?”
We all ask that question from time to time… “Is there somebody who can help steer my life, and can that somebody be trusted?” Sometimes people just try to psyche themselves up… trying to convince themselves that things will be ok. “If I just believe hard enough things should be ok.” But there’s just no real substance behind that… because faith is only as valuable as the object of your faith.
In other words, the real issue is, “Is somebody piloting this thing, and can that somebody be trusted? Is his competence and his character such that I can, with confidence, place my destiny in his hands?” But that requires faith. And, if that’s true, than faith clearly requires some level of risk! That’s why, in the Vineyard, we understand that faith is spelt “r-i-s-k.” But if faith is connected to risk… and risk is connected to the possibility of failure, than every act of faith will require the possibility that you’ll fall right on your face.
And yet, that’s just what Jesus is calling you to… to take the risk. No “plan B”, no safety nets. So… are you willing to risk the failure? Even the kind of failure that everyone knows about? In the Vineyard, that’s more than a question… it’s a calling. If we’re not failing, we’re clearly not trying. Honestly, I’ve done my share of failing. And yet, nearly every major experience of personal growth in my life and ministry has come out of those seasons.
So, please… don’t keep your dreams and expectations small simply because you might fail or experience disappointment. Dare to dream big… and dare to act on those dreams no matter what. As a follower of Jesus, it’s my ultimate goal to live the way that Jesus would live if He were present in me. The question is… will you choose risky faith over comfort & safety? Because if you do… if you live your life that way, you will have abandoned yourself to a life & world-changing adventure of walking with Jesus!