Risk is something we commercialize by removing it from routine life and assigning it to high-profile stuff like business or extreme sports. We take political risks, financial risks, mission risks, business risks, and even safety risks. But risks of the heart or home don’t seem to get airtime. It’s a shame, because that’s where most of life is lived, and that’s where ambitions often become reality.
Ambition isn’t something that waits for the big promotion. And in the home is where we find some of my favorite heroes.
Foster Parent Heroes
Do you know what a foster parent is? Picture a titanium-enforced heart miraculously bent toward the needs of desperate kids. Now wrap that in skin and add an emotional stamina package allowing him or her to survive seasons where they don’t know how long their foster child may be present. Open your heart, empty your heart, break your heart. That’s a foster parent.
Bob and Joanne Fannon were foster parents in my church. Instant heroes in my book. But they carried a unique ambition. Bob and Joanne felt called to take in children whose medical conditions made them difficult to place. In their words, they would take the “medically fragile” or “the neediest of the needy.”
Once while on vacation, Joanne received a call from their foster parent agency asking if they’d be interested in “a transplant child” named Christopher. Joanne didn’t know what that meant, but she informed her husband, Bob. As they began to pray, they sensed a distinct prompting from God to take the child, transplant and all. They agreed to take him, sight unseen. But the doctors insisted they visit right away because Christopher had some unusual medical problems. Bob and Joanne traveled to the hospital wondering why the doctor’s words felt so foreboding.
The first glimpse was shocking. Christopher lived in a glass bubble. His entire world was composed of a steel cage-like crib and three life-support systems. The equipment attached to his little body was popping, hissing, and beeping—sad reminders that Christopher’s life was maintained by machinery. At the time he was eighteen months old and had lived only two weeks of his life outside a hospital. They could see scars covering his body—a visual catalog of his suffering since birth.
Joanne instinctively turned away, her mind racing with the risks in accepting Christopher as their own. The medical complications were way beyond anything she and Bob had ever encountered. Christopher needed round-the-clock care by people who knew how to care for this condition. Bob and Joanne knew they were unqualified—they weren’t medical professionals, and they’d had no training. They had no idea what they were doing.
But they had something else—a gospel-grounded conviction and a burning ambition to help kids who seemed hopeless.
“We were terrified and overwhelmed,” Joanne recalled. “Our minds were racing—How do we get out of this? But as we looked at Christopher, God gave us the grace to see not only IV poles, but the life of a child, our child. And we knew that God had supplied faith for the risks up front. For us, it was a win-win.”
Bob and Joanne exchanged knowing glances. Christopher had just found a home. God had placed vision and faith deep in their hearts. They knew God called them, as a family, to care for kids in this way—to take them, love them, and share with them the glorious news of Jesus. This sense of calling formed a powerful impulse that had, over the years, filled their house with foster kids. This is radical, risky love.
That was more than ten years ago. Since then Bob has passed from this world to receive the rewards from his risk.
Faith Accepts Risk
Whether it’s a church friend, a prodigal parent or a foster child, following God’s call involves a great deal of risk—all the time. Like opening up a home to foster kids, it’s the kind of risk that doesn’t usually make the headlines.
As you move through your day, keep this important idea in view: Where there’s ambition, there must be risk. Always.
Remember, it was our Savior who said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). When you make it your ambition to follow Christ, he calls you to risk everything. But he doesn’t leave you on your own. He promised to be with you always. With every sacrifice, in every risk. To the end of the age. (Matt. 28: 20).
Tenacious Tuesday Questions
What risk feels too big in your life right now? Can you isolate what is preventing you from stepping out in faith? Roll it over in your mind. As clarity comes, talk to God about what you are seeing in your soul. Ask him for help. Ask him for faith. Pray this prayer…
Lord, would you grant me faith to move towards the risk to which you have called me? Let me not fear risk, but eagerly count as loss whatever gain I might have in this life, if only I may know you and be found in you.