Where Do We Get the Strength to Go All-In For Jesus?
When I was in college, there was a canyon called “Split Rock” not far from campus. It was tough to find, but if you wandered off from the main road at just the right spot, you’d find yourself at the top of a 40-foot waterfall. I don’t know who thought of this first, but it was possible to jump from the top into the pool below—but only if you ran and jumped at full speed. If you just hopped off the side, you’d end up on the rocks.
I’m not saying that jumping from Split Rock was a smart idea. But it depicts an aspect of the Christian life that many people miss: taking great risks often leads to great rewards. Sometimes taking a huge risk is the only right thing to do.
The only way to follow Jesus is with total and complete abandon. Those are the terms Jesus always gives: you’ve got to jump with all of your strength. The Christian life doesn’t work if you hedge your bets.
The problem is, taking huge risks requires huge confidence. Where do we get the strength to go all-in for Jesus?
Confidence to risk for God only comes from comprehending the commitment of God.
One of the clearest pictures of this is a famous scene in Genesis 15. Immediately after trusting God in 15:6—the most famous verse on faith in the Bible—Abraham lets God know that he’s still unsure. He’s still doubting. It’s actually encouraging to me to see Abraham, a man commended for his faith, continually coming to grips with his own doubts. I can resonate with that.
God answers Abraham’s doubts by an elaborate scene: he tells Abraham to get a cow, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon. He cuts each in half and creates a walkway with a little river of blood. This might seem odd to us, but this was an ancient way of—essentially—signing a contract. Back then, when fewer people were literate, they’d cut some animals open and walk through, saying, “If I don’t keep my end of the covenant, may this happen to me!” The Hebrew verb used for covenant was literally, “to cut a covenant.” (Somehow, I think this might be more effective with my contractor.)
So far, this is nothing special. But then, at sundown, when Abraham was supposed to walk through, God puts him to sleep—a “dreadful and great darkness” falls. And instead of Abraham, God himself, in the form of fire, passes through the pieces.
This is staggering. In those days, when a king would make a covenant with a servant, it was the servant who walked through alone. On rare occasions, if the king were incredibly gracious, he might walk through, too. But this is the only covenant in recorded history where the king goes through while the servant doesn’t. The meaning is clear: if God fails to keep his side of the bargain, he will pay with blood. But if Abraham fails to keep his side of the bargain, God also will pay with blood. God puts himself on the hook for both sides of the covenant.
That’s where Abraham got the confidence to go all-in with God: confidence to risk for God only comes from comprehending the commitment of God. True confidence never arises from within us; it comes from seeing what was done for us.
As Christians, we see this even more clearly than Abraham did. Abraham fell into a deep sleep; we were in the deep, dreadful sleep of sin. A deep darkness fell around Abraham; a similar dreadful darkness descended centuries later, when God’s Son was hanging from a cross. And on that cross, blood flowed out of Jesus’ side like a river.
Was God’s Son dying because he hadn’t kept his end of the bargain? No, he was dying because we failed to keep up ours. That’s why we sing, “He took my sins and my sorrow, and made them his very own. He bore my burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.”
Confidence to risk for God only comes from comprehending the commitment of God. Courage isn’t a matter of virtue; it’s a matter of vision. When we see what God has done for us, everything else we look at takes on a new perspective. So when we fail—again and again and again—we can rest in the arms of a Savior who proved that he’ll never give up on us. Calvary shows that God is more committed to perfecting us, more committed to leading our family, more committed to our ministry…than we ever could be. For a God like that, I’ll gladly risk it all.
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