The Aquarium and the Ocean

Lessons from a Trip to Israel

My dad, husband, and I had the opportunity to go on a ten-day trip to Israel in March with Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 ministry. It was epic.

I don’t say that lightly, either. For any of you who have gotten to do a trip like this, you know that setting foot in the places that you’ve read about your whole life will blow up the way you read your Bible. It’s sort of like reading Marvel comics and then seeing Captain America in 3D. A whole new world!

If someone asked, “Was it worth it?” I’d say “On a scale of 1-10, it was a 50.” So, yes. It was worth it.

The most common question people asked before we left was, “Are you scared?” The question makes sense. These are tense political times. They are especially tense times in the Middle East. And, a few times on the trip I was taken aback by the presence of machine gun holding people or the need to transfer to a bulletproof bus or our proximity to guard towers or barbed wire. It was clearly a high stakes environment.

But I wasn’t afraid – my safety might not have been as certain as it normally is, but I had a sense of security, nonetheless.

This was true, not because I’m super brave by nature, but because of how I’d arrived at the decision to go. When we were invited to go on the trip, I understood it to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that was a real gift – from my dad and ultimately from God. This understanding also gave me confidence to put the danger into perspective. If something had happened, it wouldn’t have been outside of God’s design and purposes for my life. I was cautious and aware, but at peace knowing that God was present and in control. I had decided to take a swim in the ocean of faith, even though I knew my situation wouldn’t be like my normal, well-ordered “aquarium” setting at home. The faith component helped me to be secure, even if my safety wasn’t quite as certain.

As I’ve gotten home from the trip and begun to process all that I’ve learned, I’ve wondered quite a bit about the inherent tension between fear and security. What is a healthy fear? Or when do we cross the line from fear to control in our efforts to ensure safety?

This is a money-blog, so I’ll relate the question to money.

Americans are very money savvy. We have advisors, accounts, tax tricks, college funds, low-interest loans, and automatic deposits. We have a lot of visibility on our money, a lot of certainty that it is not going to simply disappear at the whim of our government, and a lot of ways to protect ourselves with it.

We have an aquarium-like financial environment.

Which is not all bad. It means we’re stable, nimble, and poised to leverage our resources for the good of those in our families and for the good of the world at large.

But what about when God invites us to swim in the ocean? What about when He asks us to take a faith step, financially, in a direction that might expose us to potential risk or loss?

What then?

One of the things that we talk a lot about at the Ron Blue Institute is seeing our financial journeys as integrally related to our faith journeys.  We believe that God wants our hearts, and the money-heart connection is undeniable.  We encourage people to ask God, “What would you have me to do?” regarding financial decisions of all types – lifestyle, giving, saving, debt repayment, etc., – and then to go for it.

But what about when God’s invitation is to take a step out of the aquarium and swim a bit in the ocean of faith?

What happens when our God-directed financial decision is at cross-purposes with our apparent financial safety?

I’m not going to try to answer in specific scenarios; I would just like to invite us into the question. Can we, as Christians who have financial security unlike most of the population of the planet, live wisely and also open-handedly? Can we recognize a God-issued invitation to let faith win over safety, knowing that under His care we are always secure?

Can we let our minds be blown in an ocean of faith, once in a while?

I’d love to think that I could.