It wasn’t like cliff-diving in Jamaica or Australia on some ledge hundreds of feet in the air, but it might as well have been the tallest cliff in the world from where I stood. Where did I stand, you ask? Well, on the top of the highest cliff on the north side of “Blue Hole” – a local recreation/swimming area in my hometown. I had been up there several times and stood looking over the edge. I wanted to experience the jump, but I was paralyzed by my fear. I was frozen in place.
I’ve learned that fear has that effect on me sometimes. When fear begins to creep into my psyche and my spirit I often find myself locked up. It’s not my feet or my arms that don’t work, it’s my brain. I get seized up like a motor that threw a rod, like a teenage boy trying for the very first time to ask out a girl. I know I need to think something, but the gears don’t seem to move.
Fear can do that. It can cause us to get frozen in our tracks. It can paralyze our brain functions and hinder our ability to move forward. It’s not a fun place to be.
There was one day when Jesus encountered a man who was stuck inside a body that wouldn’t function. He was physically paralyzed. The man was brought to Jesus by some friends. They actually opened up the roof and lowered him down to where Jesus was. Jesus looked at the man. Then he looked up to see his friends staring down through the newly opened hole in the roof. Looking back at the man he said – “Your sins are forgiven.” Now, this caused a stir among the Jewish people – only God can forgive sins, they said. Jesus replied, “So, would it be easier for me to just say get up and walk?” And so he did that, and the man got up and walked.
The story is much about who Jesus is, but it is also about that man. Much speculation has gone into trying to figure out his real issue. I don’t have a definitive answer for you on that. What I do have is my own experience of being paralyzed by fear – and sometimes the fear that comes from not living the way God wants me to live. There are times in my life when I find myself in that man’s place.
So, what is it I want from Jesus in those moments? Honestly, it would be nice if he said, “Get up and walk,” and I could and I would. I would like it if God just cleared the cobwebs, gave me a push in the right direction and showed me what to do.
What is it I usually get from God in those moments? “Your sins are forgiven” or “Fear not, I am with you.” More than just thawing out my frozen gray matter, God looks to address the deeper issue. It may be that I am not living the way God wants. Often times I’m just giving into the fear (which you could argue IS my sin – a lack of trust in God).
What I want would seem to me to be the easier answer – just lay out the path for me and give me a push in that direction. It’s like being on the top of that cliff and having a friend give you a gentle push. You have little choice at that point but to make your way to the water.
What God seems to want is not what seems easy to me. God wants me to trust him more. God wants me to take a deep breath, believe he is in control and begin to figure out which way I need to go. That’s what ultimately happened for me on that cliff. I took the step all on my own. I didn’t let fear drive my decision. It was a great adventure – and I did it on my own.
I am discovering that trusting God is not “doing it on my own.” But, it is also not just letting God force me or push me into something. I have discovered that when I do not give into fear and instead I trust God, then I experience a great adventure WITH God. We become partners. And God also sends others to be with me – we become a team, a spiritual force working to make the Kingdom of God a greater reality in this world.
Stepping off that cliff wasn’t easy. Following God’s call isn’t always easy, either. But in both cases, I found myself stronger for having made the step and for having followed His call. I have discovered that my fear is not stronger than faith – even when I think fear just might be more powerful, it is not! I hope you will know this truth as well.
Holy high-five to you,