Perhaps once or twice in a lifetime, one hears a prophetic word so powerful and eternal that there is a sense that even the demons in hell are standing at attention and quaking with fear. Such is the sermon I heard in May 2016 at the Commencement Ceremony at Oral Roberts University.
The speaker was Canon Andrew White, and you must know who this man is in order to appreciate his epic words.
As a fervent religious leader in Iraq, White has been kidnapped, robbed, hijacked and has received countless death threats over the years. As a British Christian with multiple sclerosis, Canon White lives amid the sectarian violence other Westerners only read about.
The Anglican vicar, activist and scholar has dedicated his life to reconciliation in the Middle East by focusing on the positive role religion can play in resolving conflicts. Living in a constant state of risk, he negotiates the release of hostages, forges relations among key religious leaders, brings forth important peace agreements and provides desperately needed food and shelter to victims of violence. Today known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," his religious calling has brought his critical peacemaking efforts to Iraq.
As this magnificent and seasoned man looked into the sparkling eyes of the largest ORU graduating class in history, Andrew White boldly declared, "Don't take care—take risks!"
"Don't take care—take risks!" These words have ricocheted in the caverns of my heart and mind since that humid and life-changing day in May. I was sitting among the 5,000 parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and staff who were attending the event. And although Canon White intended those words for the 22-year-old graduates who were filled with wonder and enthusiasm, I felt that the Holy Spirit was speaking a thunderous challenge to my 61-year-old soul.
"Don't take care—take risks!"
I believe 2017 is meant to be a year of taking risks for the body of Christ. You and I have been called to do something so courageous, so astounding and so impossible that we will surely fail unless God intervenes.
I deeply desire to do hard things and extraordinary things, even preposterous things that call me out of my comfort zone and into His power. I want to go the extra and arduous mile and climb daunting and insurmountable mountains. I intend to stretch—and to reach—and to become breathless at the challenge that is before me in 2017.
Risk is calling my name, and I intend to answer with all of the fervor and passion a human being is able to muster with the response, "Here am I, Lord. Send me."
"Risk" is my word for 2017. I was not made for the easy but for the impossible. I was made to enthusiastically embrace the lifestyle of Esther—of Daniel—and of Joseph. God created me at my moment in history to cause all of the demons in hell to scream in anticipated defeat.
The call on my life is not a singular call; I share it with every man and woman who is alive today. You were made to defeat extraordinary yet lifeless enemies. You were created to climb yet another ridiculous mountain! You were created to face lions and floods and prison cells. You were created to win every battle in which the enemy confronts you.
You were made to take risks, my friend. Don't ask God for easy and simple. Ask Him to give you the power for the impossible. 2017 is your year—so chase it with gusto and with new strength.
Don't take care—take risks!
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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