The pastor started his sermon by telling us the choices we make shape our future and determine our destiny. This was something I already knew. The question remained; how often do I think about it when making my choices?
Life gives plenty of opportunity for making choices. I can face these with faith or with fear. I’ll admit, making choices is not easy for me. When it comes right down to it, I think the fear of making the wrong choice is what causes my inability to be decisive.
What I fail to remember is that the faith I need to move forward isn’t faith in my own judgment or ability. I only see the short-term and what looks like the easiest and most productive path for right now. God is the only one who sees the whole picture, beginning to end, and can guide me to make the right choice.
How strong is my trust in God? I know He can take care of me but do I fully believe that He will? Do I succumb to my fears or wholly trust in the Lord?
The answer to those questions will shape my future and determine my destiny. The decision is mine to make. God will never force himself on me. It’s my choice and I choose to trust in Him.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8 NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
I turned the corner onto my street and saw one of our neighbourhood jackrabbits hopping across the road. When it heard my car approaching, the rabbit stopped right where it was – in the middle of the road. It held perfectly still as I slowly drove past.
Often I see one of these rabbits in my yard and instead of hopping away when I come close, it will freeze in position, as if to blend into the surroundings and become invisible. Such was the case when I took the picture included in this post. Some places are easier to blend into than others.
To be fair, this can be an effective survival tactic. If the rabbit can’t be seen, there will be no danger of harm.
Although this may be useful for animals, the behaviour doesn’t work the same way for people.
Someone once told me she had observed me making myself invisible when I was out of my comfort zone. I was like the rabbit on the road. I thought no one could see me but I was wrong.
My desire is to feel like I belong, that I’m part of what is going on. When it feels like this is a bigger challenge than I can handle, I withdraw to protect myself from rejection. This makes me appear aloof and unapproachable. The result is I am not drawn into the group.
In essence, what I have just done is to create the exact opposite of what I wanted. I know I’m not alone in this type of behaviour. Does it affect you, too? Let’s step out in confidence to create the lives we want and not those we fear.
I am fascinated to watch Olympic Figure Skaters. They are graceful and make difficult moves look effortless. The speed with which they are on their feet again after a fall never ceases to amaze me.
A lot can be learned from the way they put a mistake behind them and continue as if nothing happened. This gives a powerful visual to the phrase, “Shake it off and carry on.”
The commentators gave me some new insight into this. When one of the complicated jumps results in a fall, it is not the disaster I would have assumed. Only one point is deducted. I saw a skater fall, redeem herself in the rest of her performance and end up near the top of the standings.
On the other hand, when a jump is a required element of a program and not attempted, zero points are awarded for this portion. It would have been more advantageous to fall than not to attempt the jump.
This is a good life lesson for me. I have often been unsure I could accomplish something so played it safe and not even tried. After all, if would be embarrassing to have people see me fall.
Unfortunately, this offers no hope for master anything new. I may have to fall and get back up many times before I’m successful. Instead of being concerned about what others think, I need to focus on doing my best.
The mental image of the figure skaters will help inspire me to go ahead and take a leap of faith.
Initially they thought the sudden pain was caused by an encounter with a stingray. A few had recently been seen in our area. When his foot became swollen and the pain was more than he could bear, the couple headed for the hospital.
A doctor cleaned the wound and removed a piece of spiny barb. He then informed this man that the injury was caused by a sea bass.
Information was given on how this happens. The sea bass has a boney spike under its dorsal fin. When it is threatened or inadvertently stepped on, this spike shoots out as the fish turns. The barbs stick into your flesh, causing pain that lasts for hours. If the wound is not properly cleaned, infection can set it.
These fish are bottom feeders and easily stepped on when wading into the sea. The attack in question happened about ten feet from the shoreline. The fish was reacting to danger by fighting back in self defense.
In a way, I’m like this fish. I don’t like to be stepped on either. Even the thought of danger has me heading into self defense mode. The barbs I send out may not pierce the flesh, but they still cause injury. Mine come as sharp words which leave wounds not visible but still extremely painful.
Sometimes the person who suffers the attack is caught by surprise, not even realizing they have stepped on me. Hearing the story of the sea bass attack has been a good reminder for me. Unnecessary injury is caused when I strike out because of fear.
“Most attacks come from fear.” Neil Strauss
When people don’t want to admit to or confront a problem it’s said they are burying their head in the sand. The idea behind this is that if you don’t see the problem, it doesn’t really exist.
I’m sure this is something most of us have done at least once in our lives. I know I have.
This saying came to mind but in a slightly different context recently. We had grandchildren playing in our yard and when I looked out, one had her head buried. It wasn’t in the sand but in the snow.
For her, it wasn’t an avoidance issue. Curiosity was a major factor. Instead of escaping from an unpleasant situation, she was embracing the unknown.
Oh, for the curiosity of a child! No matter what my first impulse may be, I‘d have thought the situation through before making a decision. The snow is cold and wet. Therefore it would probably be uncomfortable. It may even be difficult to breathe. No thank you, I think I’ll pass on putting my head in the snow.
I wonder how many experiences I’ve missed out on because I chose to hide rather than to trust God enough to move into the unknown. If I had the answers to all of my questions before I took a step forward, there would be no need to trust him. Rather than burying my head, I need to look up to God and let him direct me.
A person’s fear sets a trap for him, but one who trusts the LORD is safe. (Proverbs 29:25 GWT)
A couple of weeks ago I told you I was struggling between fear and adventure. I’m happy to report that adventure won!
The day of my big adventure had finally arrived. Why was I so calm? Shouldn’t I be nervous? The fear must be lurking, just waiting for the right opportunity to pounce.
Instead there was restlessness. I had the whole morning to kill and time was moving at a snail pace. Finally the time came to leave. I drove with my daughter and her friend while my granddaughter followed behind.
As we pulled into the parking lot at the small airport I said, “This is starting to feel real. We’re actually going skydiving!”
We checked in and were each handed a waiver to complete. If all the acknowledgements of danger and consent to absolve them of liability didn’t frighten me enough to back away, I figured nothing would!
We were soon given basic instructions and climbing into our jumpsuits. Goggles and gloves were handed out, harnesses attached and we were introduced to our tandem jump partners.
The anticipation built as we climbed aboard our small plane and watched the ground fall away beneath us. Soon my instructor was fastening himself securely to my back. As we reached 12,600 feet the door was opened and we inched towards it.
One second I had my feet on the floor of the airplane and the next I was surrounded by sky. There was no fear, no life flashing before my eyes. The sensation was incredible as the sound of air rushing past drowned out all other sounds and conscious thought. Here I was falling 6,000 feet at a speed of 200 km per hour with another adult strapped to my back! Then the chute opened and all was peaceful. The sensation was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
One of the highlights of this adventure was sharing it with my daughter and granddaughter. That’s right, three generations went skydiving together that day, and we all loved it!
After the jump my husband said, “Now that you’ve gone skydiving, what’s next?” My mind flashed to other adventures I’d been afraid to try. I smiled and said, “We’ll just have to wait and see!”
I have an opportunity that excites and terrifies me at the same time. It’s something I’ve been interested in for several years and keep saying, “Someday.” Recently an invitation was given for a specific date.
Talking brave is one thing; being brave is an entirely different matter. The time has come to make a decision. Either I go ahead or completely give up on this adventure. It’s like someone has called my bluff!
Conflicting thoughts compete for space in my mind. There is a possibility of harm. I’ve always erred on the side of caution. This has ensured safety but I wonder what the cost has been.
A song that I heard many years ago springs to mind. The words, “Everything in moderation, that’s the way it’s always been” are a good representation of my life. The lyrics go on to express a longing for more.
I wonder if I’ve played it safe for long enough. Maybe I need this adventure to take me farther out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been.
Another song that comes to mind is Live Like You Were Dying. Currently I have my health. A physical examination with all the required tests was recently completed and no problems were found. At this point in time I have loved ones who are facing severe health issues. They are limited in activities I take for granted and wouldn’t be able to do what I’m considering even if they wanted to. I don’t want to look back with regret that I let fear rob me of an adventure I was capable of.
The other factor is money. There are far more practical uses for it. I remember a quote from Jim Rohn that says, “If you want something badly enough you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
The pros and cons have now been weighed. It seems I’ve made my decision.
I’ll tell you all about it in my September newsletter! Watch for it on September 12th.
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My friend was standing on the top rung of a step ladder, arms fully extended to replace some burned out light bulbs. I was at the foot of the ladder ready to exchange the old bulbs for new ones.
Personally, I’m not fond of climbing up ladders. It feels too precarious to me. I commented that I’d be nervous but she seemed confident. My friend replied that she doesn’t like heights but learned a long time ago that there are things you need to do despite the fear. Replacing light bulbs happened to be one of them.
To emphasize her point I said, “So if you don’t take the risk you’ll end up in the dark.” We looked at each other with the realization that a greater truth had just been spoken.
There have been many risks I was too afraid to take. I’ll never know the light of new discoveries if I don’t take the chance. Jesus came that I may have a rich and satisfying life. Part of that is embracing the new adventures he has for me.
When I have taken the risk and stepped out in faith I’ve learned to keep my focus on Jesus. If I stumble I know that he is there to pick me up again. Other times he steps back to watch me soar. Either way, any risk he encourages me to take is more than worth it.
When I said, “My feet are slipping, “your mercy, O LORD, continued to hold me up. When I worried about many things, your assuring words soothed my soul. (Psalm 94:18,19 GWT)
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
I am a non-swimmer and don’t like to be in water if my feet can’t touch solid ground. In the interest of full disclosure I admit that a big part of this is because I won’t put my face in the water. I can splash water on my face to wash it, but other than that, forget it!
My daughter and I were recently on a tropical vacation when the opportunity to snorkel was presented as an optional part of our excursion. Others quickly found flippers, masks and snorkels and entered the water. There was no thought in my mind of doing the same.
My daughter gently encouraged me to give it a try. There was no pressure from her, just a genuine concern that I may regret not having the experience. She promised to be right there with me.
I didn’t have the courage to jump from the side of the boat, but there was a ladder at the back I could use. My mind and body were screaming, “You can’t do this” as I donned the gear. The thudding of my heart was deafening as I slowly descended into the sparkling turquoise water.
My daughter was right behind me, helping me to calm down and breathe properly. As she held my hand and swam beside me I put my trust in her. Soon I was admiring tropical fish and my fear faded. I even managed to let go of her hand and paddle around a bit on my own. It was an incredible experience and one I am grateful for.
The memory of my daughter holding my hand, calming me and guiding me safely through this challenge brought another image to mind. Jesus has done this for me many times in my life. When I’m anxious or frightened all I need to do is call on him. His calm assurance gives me courage. I know that he is always there to take my hand and lead me safely to my destination.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
We were walking along the beach when my husband suddenly stopped and looked at the sand behind him. He pointed out a small crab. It was very still and blended well with the surroundings, making it difficult to see.
I commented on his good vision at spotting the crab. He said his foot had brushed it and he’d felt the scurry. He’d stopped so he could see what had caused this.
For the crab, being able to hide in plain view is a method of self-protection. This ability helps to keep it safe from predators.
I thought of how I have used this method of self-protection in my life. I’ve done this when I’ve been in uncomfortable situations or ones in which I feel threatened. At these times I withdraw and do my best to blend into the background. In effect I am attempting to make myself invisible to those around me.
The result is feelings of isolation. This is not what I want and is definitely not comfortable.
When I remember that my value does not come from others but from God I am much happier. I turn my focus to the fact that God knows me intimately and still loves me unconditionally. From him there is no hiding, nor does there ever need to be.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 NIV
When I am afraid I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3,4 NIV