A farmer walks into the local diner. He sits down, wipes the sweat from his brow, and orders a coffee. The diner is a buzz with other locals talking about everything from the state of the economy to politics and how the crops were coming along. The banter was lively and folksy as the farmer's friend took up the stool next to him. He smiled and asked, “Working hard or hardly working?” He chortled.
The farmer with a slight grin on his face, wiping the sweat from his brow again, sighed and replied “ Busy, busy. You know how it goes.”
“I hear ya” the friend replied. “Canola is doing well, and the price is pretty good. How many acres of canola did you plant this year?”
“I didn’t plant canola this year.” the farmer confessed. “The markets are just too volatile and didn’t want to risk it.”
“I suppose they can be a little. Can you believe the price of feed barley this year? Best in years. Not sure how the cattle guys can afford it!” said the friend.
“Oh man, the price is crazy good! I sure wish I had planted some barley but the price didn’t look so good in the spring, so I decided against it.” The farmer replied sheepishly.
The conversation took a short detour, as Tom Adams, the farm equipment salesmen in the passion of one of his tall stories knocked his coffee onto his lap! The whole place erupted with hoots and laughter as Tom danced from the hot coffee spilled on his crotch.
“Ah, that Tom is one funny guy.” The farmer said, and his friend agreed.
The friend queried once more, "how’s your wheat looking this year? My wheat sure got beat up in that storm last week. How did your wheat fare? His friend inquired.
“No problem at all” replied the farmer with a smile and a cagey glimmer in his eye.
“Wow, that was lucky! You must be living right! I haven’t spoken to a farmer this side of the correction line that didn’t get mangled by that storm. It will come back, but it sure beat it up! So your wheat will be real good this year, eh?”
“Well, not exactly” the farmer sighed. I didn’t get damage from the storm because, well, I didn’t plant wheat this year. Spring was really dry and was concerned it wouldn’t germinate so I decided against it.”
The friend looked at the farmer. “Sooooo, what did you plant this year?”
“Nothing” retorted the farmer.
“Nothing at all?” the friend asked astonished. “Why?”
The farmer looked down at his cup of coffee and replied, “That’s right. Nothing at all - I am playing it safe.”
The friend stared for a moment, his mouth a gape with what must have been a bewildered expression. He snapped from his disbelief and trying to change the subject as he asked: “shall we top off our coffees?”
“Love to but I have to jump. I have a meeting with Reg down at the bank. Hoping he’ll refinance our farm loan so we can make it through this year.”
I wonder how many of us can see ourselves in this story? I know I can, especially in a few areas of my life. It sometimes seems that the risk that life can keep us hunkered down behind excuses and rationalizations that disguise the real issue - fear in actually engaging real life. Now please don’t misunderstand me, there are indeed some legitimate reasons why we make some choices and not make others. This can be the result of healthy discernment and wisdom but how many times have our decisions to not “step out” have more to do with fear - fear of failure, rejection, missing God's will, or a litany of other possible unpleasant consequences? How often do we allow these to trump indiscriminately the very wonderful potential outcomes and at the very least, the potential discovery of options we have not considered?
“Playing it safe” is usually a euphemism to rationalize our decision to hide, or said another way, to not really live. In the hiding, we never really discover who we are and what we can actually do and become.
The old cliche’ says faith is often spelled R-I-S-K is so true and it is helpful to remember that God's arm is long enough to “save us”, to lead us, to get us where we need to be, and yet I know sometimes in my own life, I have more faith in my ability to screw things up than my faith that God is indeed at work in my life and that He is really for me!
Take a few moments to reflect on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew(25:14-30) and allow God to surface any of the areas in your life where He may be leading you to step out, to take a risk - like Abram (Gen. 12:1) calling you to go to a place that you don’t know, overcoming your fears and trusting that indeed God loves YOU and is for YOU.
- Great love and great achievements involve great risk. - Anon.
- “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” – Seneca
- You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go. - T.S. Elliot
- Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. - Claude Thomas Bissell