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Monday, January 28, 2013

Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained.

There' a well-worn proverb I've heard many times over the years, but it never embedded. Late last week, Tricia and I were watching a harmless reality show called North Woods Law. It's about the adventures and challenges of being a Game Warden in Maine. I watch because I love anything back country-open space. It's in my blood. These folks make their living in such environs.

Anyway, early in the show one of the Wardens has to check on a family that might be violent because of drug dealing, and the word is out they're keeping a ball python in their house. Twice in the first few minutes of the show, he says about checking things out, "Nothing ventured; nothing gained." Apparently, this proverb has a long history, the saying dates back to Chaucer (c. 1374).

For reasons I realize now, it stuck because God has been "prodding" me to finally address my life-long struggle with anxiety. I won't write about it now, but suffice it to say, it has caused problems in my life, and probably resulted in some losses.

"Nothing ventured; nothing gained," stood out and stuck in because the Holy Spirit has been dealing with my decades-long, irrational fear of asking for money. It could be asking clients to pay me for my work, including reminding them about it. I always felt uneasy about taking a paycheck because I've worked in non-profits for decades. This fear is nuts, but resiliently influential.

Skip forward to asking imagine donors to donate, and I lean toward panic. Procrastination is my shield. To be fair, I had an almost traumatic experience with asking for donations a decade ago. I was talked into it and then rebuked harshly by the very person who encouraged me to give it a try. Initiating the ask for money feels for me like intruding or stepping over a boundary. Yet,God's made it clear - even through Tricia - I am to get over my fear and ask with gentle assertiveness, i.e., nothing ventured; nothing gained. It's a responsibility I've been given:

Not venturing to ask is to refuse to offer others opportunity to give.

Not venturing to ask is to deny what God seeks to provide through his people.

Not venturing to ask is to deny his family the responsibility to give to his work.

Not venturing to ask allows the evil one to delay the progress of Kingdom mission through intimidation and lies.

What is not gained by asking is lost, or at the very least, delayed because of inaction. Anxiety becomes a wicked ally of cowardice, irresponsibility, and insipid resignation.

So. I'm gradually learning to silence this enemy in many areas of my life. I sincerely want to gain the ability to make the ask and watch what God provides through his generous ones. More importantly, I want finally to know I've taken a deeper responsibility for the work he's given us, and for the resources lying in wait for me to venture forth and receive from his hand.

I've begun to venture out, but please pray for me and hold me accountable. I'll need both for a while.
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