In modern American society, we’ve been conditioned to believe we have control over everything; the ideas of “miracles” and “healing” are foreign concepts that – for most of us living today – are more fantasy than something attainable. Chad Johnson (of former Tooth and Nail Records fame) is now dedicating his life to proving that spiritual healing and prophecy are alive and well. Through story after story in this personal account, Johnson’s book, One Thousand Risks, forces the reader to consider the possibility that perhaps their faith is not as strong as suspected, that maybe they are holding back so very much.
In One Thousand Risks, Johnson details his life after a breakdown he had in his car. Heading to work as an A&R rep for Tooth and Nail Records (he would be responsible for discovering acts Underoath, mewithoutYou, As Cities Burn, TwoThirtyEight, and more), he began to weep, breaking down about his addictions to drugs and pornography. His style is to lay himself bare, earning the trust of the reader through his transparency. He is more honest about himself than he needs to be with strangers (sometimes to an uncomfortable degree), living as “a saint that sometimes sins.” In the book, he attributes the credit for any work being done in him (and in his life and those he encounters) to Jesus; even still, the book may have come off as almost too radical and evangelistic to be sincere. His unnecessary honesty grounds it.
Johnson’s accounts are humanly flawed – basic, even – at times. Yet, he ends up relaying experiences that most people couldn’t begin to imagine. (His time in Turkey was especially touching to me. So was his last story about a Muslim woman in Lebanon who was healed of a metastatic brain tumor by, as is his claim, prayer alone.) Miracles, as he records and recounts, are still happening. And although the concept of taking the “one thousand risks” challenge is the primary focus of Johnson’s book, it is also about his spiritual growth and revival. Here, his exploration and honing of spiritual gifts, something that often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, are an underrated part of the book.
Like myself, every person may not take on the book’s challenge of risk-taking. But readers likely cannot deny the seed that is planted to be used more for God’s works. After reading about these experiences, I found I wanted to witness healing, to receive it, and I actually started praying for it. I’m not sure how I feel about this selfish venture, but following Johnson’s lead, I found I was able to take the step. This evangelistic approach is not for everyone; it’s probably completely unrealistic for many, as it involves approaching strangers regularly and inserting yourself into purposely awkward positions. But, without people like Johnson to take the initial risk, faith can remain very much a boxed commodity that is experienced only within predetermined venues and times.
In a day of instant gratification in every form imaginable, the intentional practice of human interaction and prayer is not as common as it once was. An ex-music industry expert is here to remind us that while we were seeking what the world had to offer, Jesus never went anywhere. As Johnson reminds the reader time and again (admittedly through my favorite words in the entire book): when your Father is King of the Universe, you’ve got nothing left to lose; you might as well take a crazy chance and see where He leads you.
Did One Thousand Risks change my life? The jury’s still out. Did it make me think twice about how I’m spending my days? Absolutely.