You never know where the road will lead

In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” Bilbo says to Frodo, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” In the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, the word road is capitalized. It’s the Path, the reason for your being, if you believe there is such a thing. You step out onto the path and you really don’t know where it will take you.

Of course, everything in life is risk. Ecclesiastes 10:8 says, “When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you. When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax. Such are the risks of life.”

Thank you, Ecclesiastes, for bringing the sunshine.

It’s true: There’s nothing you can do that doesn’t have some element of risk.

It’s not surprising, then, that the path of faith may be riskier than normal life. Believing is a risk, because believing is not certainty.

One day, a man named Abram decided to uproot his family (estimated to be 70 persons) because he heard the whisper of God. He left his house and homeland and go on a perilous journey, all on the promise from an invisible God. God changed his name from Abram (“noble father”) to Abraham (“the father of many.”) He would be the father of nations. But along the way he would encounter danger, war and worry. Faithfulness was hazardous.

In the Exodus, the Hebrews walked through a parted sea with an army on their heels. They nearly starved in the desert. The prophets were usually killed when they spoke the truth. All the while, God called his people back to faithful covenant, teaching them to love God more and more, and teaching them to love one another.

Jesus called his disciples with a “follow me” and no guarantees except for his companionship.

I’m saying all of this because people don’t normally associate faith with risk. Faith is supposed to be safe and domesticated, right? We have lost, or forgotten, the teaching of Jesus that one of the greatest mistakes we can make is playing safe with our lives.

He said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you’ll lose it. But if you lose it for my sake, you’ll find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

Faith believes in the whisper. Faith steps out of the comfort zone. Faith looks forward, not backward.

Of course, the greatest risk is to love. In our relationships that we take the biggest risks. Mark 12:30 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

You take a risk when you love God like that. You may get hurt when you love others with abandon. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But it is not safe.

Keep your feet, but don’t be afraid. The path is worth the risk.