Rejecting Safe Faith

A few years ago I went to the Empire State Building. My sister and I, both the polar opposite of trapeze artists, decided to go out to the observation deck on the 86th floor. Aside from the fact that it was freezing up there, the view was paralyzing.

On that 360 degree observation deck, the only thing that keeps you from plunging to your death is a wall of concrete about 2 feet thick and a wireframe fence. To say that we weren’t exactly comfortable up there would be the understatement of the year.

It was difficult to fully appreciate the spectacular view because we were more worried about the little boy that jumped up on the wall and stuck his head through the gate to get a better view of the street. If I wasn’t so terrified for my own safety, I would have pulled him back to the ground and called child advocacy on his parents!

After a few minutes of feigning bravery, we had enough and scurried back inside for safety and warmth.

Safety Net Faith

Since resigning from my day job to take a dream job doing communications and IT at my church, I’ve had an opportunity to make the risk much safer.

I was offered an opportunity to stay on at my current job for an unspecified amount of time to help with the transition. They were asking for me to be available at least 3 days per week and to come into the office at least twice per week.

I initially asked for a bunch of money (because hey, why not?). They declined and offered half of my current salary. I was disappointed at first but then I thought, “We could really use the money”. It’s always better to have a bigger cushion if anything should happen.

The next few days I thought through what my schedule would look like balancing about 25 hours at each job. I knew I could make it work. Plus, I would make a few thousand dollars in the next few weeks which puts us in an even better position.

Then it hit me. All the faith it took to make the decision in the first place was waning.

I started worrying about money. Then I started worrying if things would work out. As I shared with co-workers what I was doing, I heard this more than once, “If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back.”  I started agreeing with it too.

I heard myself questioning the wisdom of having such a small amount of savings. I HAD to stay on for a few more months because what happens if there is an emergency and we use all our savings immediately?

I was methodically constructing my safety net.

Minimized Risk or Minimized Faith?

There is a difference between risky and reckless. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two. The same people who encourage you to take a risk might be the same ones wondering why you didn’t take the proper precautions.

How do you know if you are reckless or faithful? How do you know if you are cautious or fearful?

There is no formula to answering this question. That’s the beautiful intricacy of faith. My faith carried me to this decision because I prayed about it and began to see opportunities open up. As soon as I focused too much on minimizing risk, I saw that it minimized my faith and I began to question my decision.

If I make every precaution to prevent failure, where does faith come in? How can I give God the glory if I make all the preparations myself?

I wonder if by being too practical, I lose sight of the miraculous. How many times in my life did I miss out on God’s miracles because I didn’t believe and made my own plans? More times than I can count. I decided that I don’t want to miss out on seeing God work any longer.

I rejected the offer to stay on at my job. I’m going into this new season fully committed without taking anymore precautions. I’m rejecting safe faith and taking a leap without a safety net.

I don’t want to miss out on the view from up high because of a fear of what’s below.

Comments

  1. Awesome post, Tony! I can so relate to this. When we are weak He is strong. If we are always trying to be strong and practical, where does God get to show His glory and power? I commend you for praying through this and for listening to His small still voice. Safe prevents the fullness of His Spirit to fill your life with blessings.

    Congratulations on your new journey and Merry Christmas to you guys!
    Heather Murdock recently posted..Attitude of Gratitude

  2. If you haven’t read Chasing Daylight by McManus before, I highly recommend. Great stuff on risk, trusting your passions, etc. Read it last year for the first time and it’s one of my favorites now.

    But regardless, thanks for sharing your life with us Tony. It’s encouraging to see your faith in action.
    dustin recently posted..Let Me Get What I Want

  3. Great stuff here, Tony. Good luck with sticking to your convictions about your choice in career. It’s important to be following what God has for you, and where you feel your talents and passions are. Even if it means sacrificing financial security for a time. My husband and I are both self-employed and it has given us the freedom to have more quality time for each other and for the things that really matter most.
    Cindy Holman recently posted..Day 26 – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – by Josh Groban

    • Cindy, that sounds like the best thing I could think of. Money isn’t important to either of us. At least not in the sense that if we have everything we need, we want money to have everything we want.

      Living simply with higher quality of life definitely trumps more money for us.

  4. I guess it all comes down to doing what you love. You can’t really succeed in doing what you do not want to do.

  5. You know something Tony, I went through something very similar right after I left my banking job to do IT full-time for my church.

    Just a couple of months into my new ministry, I got a recruiter calling me offering me a six figure salary! She actually told me that the job was mine if I just said yes because I had dealt with her before. Needless to say, I told her, “I’ll call you back!”

    I prayed about it and I felt like it was a test from the Lord to see where I was at with Him. Even though I was very enticed,I called the recruiter back and I told her, “No thanks.”

    Luke 9:62 comes to mind, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Sounds to me like you are “fit for the Kingdom” my friend :-)

    • Wow, what an opportunity. That’s faith right there, man!

      I’d love to connect with you some time, Peter. It sounds like our stories are very similar in that respect.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. I go back to something that I heard Erwin McManus say – here is my paraphrase – What is it that you are doing that is all God – that is that you are doing that you would fail miserably? That is the place where you know that you are trusting God.

    I am with you because there is a difference between Risk and Reckless – Bill does a good job of covering that.

    Good word Tony.
    Jim F recently posted..The Ministry Sweet Spot

    • That’s a great quote, Jim. There are ways I check my motives but I know that if whatever I set out to do is for His glory and not my own, I can be confident that it is the right direction.

  7. Tony…as I was reading this, I kept thinking about how I have {or have not} applied this in my own life. Recently, God’s been teaching me some hard lessons about myself that have required a BIG step of faith in some of my closest relationships. The flesh inside of me didn’t want to take the risk. I wanted to curl up in a ball and pray that God would give up what He asked me to do and say, “Oh, you don’t like it? Okay never mind.” Even in my wincing and grimacing as I jumped off the cliff, He was still there for me. He became my safety net, my soft place to land, and my freedom from what had been holding me back. And, all of my worst fears about the risk didn’t come true. In fact, the worst things I imagined happening-anger, loss of relationship, hatred, mistrust-became the most amazing picture of His heart-acceptance, deepened intimacy, empathy. The lesson that I’ve learned is that when He asks me to have faith, to take a risk, He knows what’s on the other side and it’s been pretty darn fantastical. What actually scares me now is knowing that He will begin to ask me to start taking even greater risks. But, I take comfort in knowing there are even greater rewards. Like Leigh said, greater sanctification and even more glory for Him.
    Keri recently posted..O Tannenbaum, what’s your story?

    • I listened to a sermon by Bill Johnson this week and he said something interesting. He said the character of God is to be a rewarder. That’s why there were 2 trees in the garden. That’s why we’re given choice. He wants us to choose rightly so that He can reward us.

  8. This is so good, Tone. A great reminder to not rely on worldly standards – playin’ it safe! Way to burst that bubble and explore what’s out there, my friend.
    Justin recently posted..Back in 2012

    • It’s a good feeling to actually purposefully walk in faith. I don’t think I’ve ever done it like this with anything in my life before.

      I can’t even say I did with meeting Katie online because with that, I knew that I knew.

  9. Good on ya Tony.

    Here’s my scripture from this morning;

    Mt 21:28
    ¶ But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard.

    Mt 21:29
    He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

    Mt 21:30
    And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

    Mt 21:31
    Which of the two did the will of his father? They said unto him, The first. Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

    The Lord bless your journey with Him my friend.

    Dave
    Dave DeRosa recently posted..As it was in the days of Noe!

  10. Tony, wow…so awesome to see you move in faith like this…

    Remember Jesus sent out his disciples with nothing but the Gospel! When they returned, he asked if they lacked anything? They Said NO!!!!

    Peter tells Jesus they have no money to pay the taxes…Jesus tells Jesus to go fish and open the mouth of a fish and money was in there!!!!

    Jesus will provide. Always…

    it’s up to us the just take him at his word…
    arny recently posted..If The Virgin Mary Had A Facebook…

  11. thanks, Tony- needed that.

  12. I am in several situations where I’m trusting God and either He’s coming through or there’ll be a ‘crash and burn’ scenario. The enemy loves to draw us into ‘what if’ thinking that renders us ineffective. I’m not immune and it’s not always easy, but I’ve thrown in my lot with Him and I’m not going back. Good encouragement, Tony.
    Jason Stasyszen recently posted..5 Things I Don’t Get: Christmas Songs Edition

    • It’s terrifying but that’s also where God gets all the glory! If there’s no serious repercussions because of all our precautions, then it’s not very impressive when God does come through.

  13. Isn’t it crazy how as soon as we take a step into what God has for us, our natural tendency is to go back? The children of Israel did the same thing when God brought them out of Egypt. They were excited to leave, rejoiced on the way out and then, a short time after, were crying to go back.

    I’m glad to hear you took this full step and are trusting God completely! Praying for you guys, Tony!
    Jason Vana recently posted..Called Very Good

    • Thanks so much, Jason. Honestly I was inspired by your post the other day about having more than we can handle. My faith is the only thing that is getting me through to know that He’s given me more than I can handle, just so He can show me that He’s taking care of things.

  14. I recently have been faced with this. One of my strengths is my consistency and fairness. But by doing that I was limited some news things that God wanted to do in my life. With the help of a friend, I was able to see that by “playing by the rules” I previously held to be true, it was limiting my future growth. This happened both personally and in ministry. I was not allowing God to give me the new rules of engagement in the name of consistency.

    Thanks for the post!
    Chris Lautsbaugh recently posted..3 Secret Fears of a Missionary

    • Whoa, I can relate to this so specifically more than you even know! I just had a conversation down this line of thinking with my wife the other day.

      Maybe God’s trying to tell me something! :)

  15. Tony – Man, this speaks so much truth into my life and my current situation. I’m in a situation where I’m totally burned out. My dream job would be to make a living as a writer, but I currently don’t have an opportunity to do that that pays enough to walk away from the job that is draining my life energy. I’m looking forward to the day when I can finally make that transition and am trying to have the faith needed to get there.

    Great stuff as always.
    Kevin Haggerty recently posted..A letter to my future self

    • Have you read “Quitter” by Jon Acuff? If not, I definitely recommend it. If you’re serious about taking next steps, that book is a great place to start.

      • Yes. I have read it…in two nights, believe it or not. I couldn’t put it down. I’m actually thinking of reading it again. That book and “31 Days to Find Your Blogging Mojo” (by Bryan Allain) are the two pieces of literature that have kept me afloat in a very trying year.
        Kevin Haggerty recently posted..A letter to my future self

  16. What happens when we think we are being faithful and following God, abandoning safe faith or whatever you want to call it, and in reality we are being prideful? God must be calling me to this because I believe it. It is easy to mistake the call of God for our own desires. Then if we were wrong who gets the blame–God.

    • That’s definitely the tension between fear and faith. I don’t have a “right” answer because I believe everyone’s journey is different.

      The easy way is to pray that God audibly speaks to us what He wants us to do. I know I’ve cried out for that. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, God!”

      It’s never happened for me. Not yet anyways. Every success and every failure is an opportunity to mature my faith.

      Honestly I believe we learn more in failure than we do in success.

  17. Awesome word, Tony. It’s so great to see how you live out your faith rather than just writing about it or talking about it. And the fact Katie’s with you just reinforces that God’s working here.
    Jason recently posted..Day 347: Prayer, encouragement, friends

  18. It’s very easy to rationalize that we are being cautious and not necessarily questioning our faith. My wife recently took a leap of faith, she quit her job, that was family income of 35% gone, there was no backup plan, no safety net. The Lord called for her to quit her job, and we had to go into it with both feet. God Bless.
    Juan Cruz Jr recently posted..Is your life just a song?

  19. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard “If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back.” in the past 2 years. It irritated me because I wanted to be open to the adventure and the possibilities instead of thinking it might not work out. What’s the point of taking a leap of faith if you’re already working on Plan B? We end up missing the beauty of the freefall that way. It’s scary but in the scariness, God has met me and showed up in bigger ways than I asked or imagined.

    There could be wisdom in picking up part-time work but the only way we discover that is by praying and looking at our hearts. Will it dilute our calling? Will it provide a safety net we don’t need? What is my motivation? Self-awareness and sanctification will take us further than we dreamed. Enjoy the leap, Tony!
    HopefulLeigh recently posted..The End is in Sight

    • “What’s the point of taking a leap of faith if you’re already working on Plan B?”

      EXACTLY! I started to work on plan B without even realizing it. I’m so prone to working things out on my own that I didn’t even realize I was doing it in the midst of God’s promises.

  20. Faith is never safe. God is never safe. If God is safe and faith is safe, it’s not God and it’s not faith. In my experience God is dangerous. He’s not out to bring glory to us, He’s out to get glory for Himself… in us and through us. I mean, he demanded Abe to sacrifice his son. Not safe. He demanded his disciples to abandoned their jobs. Not safe. Every disciple didn’t live safely. Us christians should be the craziest people walking the earth. And sometimes we end up being the safest. Something wrong with that.

    I applaud your faith, your trust, your risk. Let the chips fall where they may. God is the chip holder!
    Moe recently posted..The Usual Suspects: One of the 22,000

  21. I am with you all the way! I am with Pastor Matt, if your risk puts you square in the middle of God’s will, then you’re really not at risk. I am so proud of you for turning down the offer from your current job.

    If I *had* to error on one side or the other…I would error on the side of reckless as opposed to safe. Even when you royally screw up (which I have…) you get to see just how much Jesus loves you no matter what.

    I’m not afraid of taking risks with you. :) I’m lookin’ for adventure…and whatever comes our way! BORN TO BE WILD!!
    Katie Alicea recently posted..Let Me See…

  22. A risk that puts us squarely in God’s will isn’t really a risk at all. I believe this, but don’t always live it out.
    seekingpastor recently posted..This and That

  23. Tony, thanks for sharing your insights through this journey you’re on. Really helpful and inspiring to me, and I’m sure, many others. Taking the blind leap of faith is so important.
    David Santistevan recently posted..The Worship Musician’s Guide To Preparing For Sunday

  24. Excellent! Safe faith really isn’t safe is it? Abraham & Isaac come to mind. I highly doubt he wanted to climb that mountain.
    Michael Perkins recently posted..Michael Perkins, Inc.

  25. Good word Tony. Reckless would have been quitting your new job without talking to your new wife about it. Reckless would have been quitting your job with a new wife, new responsibilities, and no where to go. That would have been reckless (and foolish). Risky is trusting. If Katie is with you, that is a signal to move ahead. Move my friend and don’t look back.
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..AStory

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