May 13, 2013

“…that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”  Ezra 6:10

Retirement planning can feel very much like gambling.

New York Stock ExchangeIf I had gone to work for the government or a large corporation, I would probably be eligible for a pension.  I did not, so my retirement has to be funded upon my initiative.  A pension should be a predictable stream of future income.  A 401K plan is not as predictable.

I have to make decisions about where to make my retirement investments.  I sit before a list of investment alternatives and try to make an informed decision but it seems more like playing roulette.  I have less information and analysis than people who make their living manipulating money and they still get it wrong.  That does not give me much confidence in my own abilities.

You can increase the odds of winning in roulette by picking a color.  You hedge your bet with a color pick because there are more opportunities for the ball to roll into a winning slot.  The odds are against you if you pick a singular number.  In a similar way, I hedge my bet in planning for my retirement by investing in mutual funds.  Mutual funds are an accumulation of stocks from a variety of companies that have something in common.

If you think that the technology sector is going to boom, then you pick a mutual fund full of tech stocks.

If you think that the economy is primed for innovation-driven growth, then you might want to pick a mutual fund full of small business companies.

If you think the Asian tiger will roar again, then mutual funds made up of companies in Asia is the place to rest your money.

If you think the market is going to crash, then fleeing to a fund made up of bonds might be ideal.

If you just don’t know, then a large cap fund that tries to buy stocks from across the genre of stocks in the market is the greatest hedge available.

You can hedge your retirement bet to your own personal level of risk.  If you are absolutely confident in the future performance of a company, then you should put all of your retirement in that company.  This strategy has the highest potential for return but also the highest risk.  A person who invested everything they had in the formation of Microsoft would have been very well rewarded for that risk.  A person who made a singular investment in Enron would have lost everything.  You have to pick well with this strategy.

Most of us do not have the confidence to bet our future retirement on one company, so we hedge.

The kings of Persia did this sort of hedging with the gods of the people they conquered.  They did what they could to appease these foreign gods; just in case.  They were hedging.  They created a mutual fund of gods.  They made an investment of resources to their spiritual mutual fund in hopes that this myriad of deities would bless or a least not curse their kingdom and rule.

That is what Cyrus and Darius, Kings of Persia, had in mind when they decreed that the Jews should be allowed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  What could it hurt to keep the God of the Jews appeased?  It would be another altar, to another god, where offerings of pleasing sacrifices to the deities would be made in the expanse of their kingdom.

They were hedging their spiritual bets.

The problem for the Persian Kings was that the God of Abraham will not be held in a spiritual mutual fund.  He only accepts the sacrifices of those who have gone all-in with Him alone.  He does not allow Himself to be hedged.  He requires a complete investment of everything we have and are.  He tests our confidence in Him by demanding all.  The degree to which we try to hedge on God is the degree to which we trust His promises and Him.

Jesus is the singular investment of our lives.

Now, I don’t know of anyone who lives with a spiritual mutual fund like the Persian kings.  We are more inclined to have a happiness mutual fund.  We make our investment in the variety of hopes, including God, that we expect will bring a good return of happiness and well-being in the future.  Once again, God does not respond to a mutual fund approach to life.  He is our sole source of joy. It is through Him that all joy originates. He will not be hedged against the possibility that He will prove unfaithful.  He knows what unbelief is in all its forms.  Spiritual backup plans are a form of unbelief.

Where have you made your spiritual investments?  How many avenues hold your future hopes and dreams?  Are you hedging?  Is your approach really that different from the kings of Persia?

We can have complete confidence in the God of Abraham.  He is faithful.  He is trustworthy.  He is the most secure investment for our lives that this world will ever know.  Your investment in anything other than God is guaranteed to be lost.  A singular investment of your life in Christ Jesus will yield a return of eternal life.  That is an incalculable return.  However, it requires a singular investment; Christ requires your complete confidence.  No hedging is allowed.

Are you willing to invest all that you are in the great I AM?

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive me where I have hedged.  Forgive me where I have not trusted fully in You.  You are my all in all.  You are my one and only.  You are God and God alone; In you I place all of my trust, hope and dreams.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen


  1. Right on time!!! Thanks

  2. I love this post! This is awesome! Thank you for posting!

  3. My hedge funds have included worry, selfish pursuits, and stepping ahead of God to accomplish goals. All of these efforts negate my trust in God alone. I say “Amen” to your prayer. Thank you for an insightful post, JD!

  4. He gave me beauty for ashes…

  5. Well said.

  6. a very apt analogy. I really enjoyed it.

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