Sometimes I think there is a very thin line between fearless and crazy, one which often gets blurred. My husband, whose tagline for life is, Live Dangerously, believes a person isn’t truly living who doesn’t stare down danger on a frequent basis. On one of the very few snowy mornings this past winter he got himself up early and drove to a mountain in New Hampshire, which he climbed.
In ice and snow.
I don’t usually worry about him when he takes risks like this, primarily because I don’t allow myself the luxury of thinking about what he’s doing. I also know he’s in good physical condition and has planned ahead to have the necessary clothing and equipment for his adventure. He has calculated both the risk and reward of his climb and decided the effort was worth it.
When Bonnie at Faith Barista suggested the word fearless as a writing prompt I thought about my husband, and others like him, and wondered how they got to be the way they are. My temperament tends toward the other end of the emotional spectrum. I am prone to be more fearful than fearless. Someone once pointed out to me how often I begin a sentence with the words, I’m afraid.
As I was mulling this idea of fearlessness I found myself loitering at a car dealership,waiting for an oil change. I could hear the voice of Dr. Phil in the background,going about his business of fixing people’s lives on TV. I found myself starting to pay attention as a woman described her debilitating fear of riding in cars. She spoke of experiencing physiological symptoms such as nausea,sweating, and shortness of breath every time she got into a car.
The good TV doctor explained that fear is the body’s healthy response when in the presence of danger. Human beings are wired with a fight-or-flight response, an automatic adrenaline rush signaling when it might be a good time to head on out of Dodge.
An unhealthy response, he said, is one which is disproportionate to the danger present.
I thought about fear being a healthy, God-given response. If I am created to react in the presence of danger, then isn’t fear a gift given for my protection? Perhaps, I thought, it’s unrealistic for me to think about aspiring to fearlessness.
Unless this instinctive response is a defect in the way I was originally designed. In the beginning there was nothing to fear.There was only God and everything he created, all of which was very good. And in God’s presence was perfect safety.
But that’s not the world I live in. Christ calls me to follow him through a world filled with very real dangers, toils, and snares. But he also promises to equip me for the adventure. He offers his perfect love which casts out fear. And he promises never to leave me or forsake me.
Christ asked his followers to do some things that sounded downright crazy. Trust him for daily bread. Lay down their lives. Jump out of a boat. He asked them, and he asks me, to live in this world; to engage it, risk getting my heart broken, and live dangerously.
I doubt I will ever become fearless in this life, but in God’s presence my fears can begin to assume their proper proportion. The danger of wind and wave, and the cares of this world, diminish in comparison to the one who bids me to follow. Fear reminds me that I need Him.
Joining Bonnie at Faith Barista:
And with KD Sullivan at Painting Prose: