For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7
It was one great adventure! Every year, except for covid year, our youth pastor takes a group of people to canoe on the Jack’s Fork River in Southern Missouri. Last year, people were signing up in the foyer after services and something very strange happened. I spoke. Well, that was not strange since I often say too much. But what I said was definitely strange. I looked at my wife and said, “We should do this.” Of course, she fainted and required CPR, but after reviving her, she signed us up. Now I like adventures, a lot, but I am not a fan of cold water, make that very cold water, canoes, and falling out of a canoe and trying to get back in. The potential for all of that was part of this adventure. But it was too late. We were going.
It is funny how things can grow in your mind. The more I thought about this the more I was certain this was not going to have a good outcome. I began to say, half in jest and half believing it, that I was going to die. I wasn’t sure if the cause of my demise was going to be drowning or heart attack from the cold water, but I was going to die. As the days passed heading toward the day of the great adventure, the dread became more and more real.
Now, I need to be honest. My fear had nothing to do with the water, cold or not. My greatest fear was embarrassment. I just knew, given the wobbly nature of a canoe, that we would end up in the water. I was cool with that…no pun intended. The problem was the spectacle of me trying to crawl back into the boat. I could just imagine my slightly (well, perhaps more than slightly) pudgy body struggling to go over the side and back into the boat. And, by the way, it was not an unfounded fear.
You see, years ago, at another event at another church, I was on the back of a jet ski with a friend of driving. We were zipping along and then, all of a sudden, he was zipping, and I wasn’t. I slid right off the back of that jet ski and right into the water. Well, he circled back around, and I spent the next two hours (ok, a slight exaggeration there) trying to crawl back onto the jet ski. And, yes, people were watching and yes, people were laughing, and I was dying…not from drowning but from embarrassment.
Well, here I am years later, and that scar still has all the makings of a fresh wound. Whenever a situation like that comes around, fear creeps in and I want to run in the opposite direction. Fear does that, you know. Fear will cause us to miss a lot of great opportunities, a lot of great adventures, and the crazy part is that the thing we fear often doesn’t materialize or at least isn’t nearly as bad as we thought. But such is the way of fear.
So, we went and guess what? We didn’t lose it. Though several folks ended up in the water, somehow, Judy and I didn’t. It was probably my well experienced (not) and expert (not) command of the canoe. Actually, it was no small measure of grace. Oh, and by the way, while the current did make recovering some of the boats difficult, it wasn’t from the depth of the water. In most places the water was only a couple of feet deep. In other words, if we had dumped, I probably could have stepped right back in the boat. Hmmm…how about that.
If you find yourself facing the unknown or maybe the possibility of reliving a part of your difficult past, don’t assume the same outcome. And, better than that, remember that the thing we fear is usually not the monster we think it is. And, better than that, there is a loving Father, who wants to walk with you no matter what. I love the verse in the Bible that teaches me, that reminds me, that fear doesn’t come from God…it comes from the devil. The enemy knows fear paralyzes…he knows it causes pain, and he knows he can control us through our fear. But regardless of all that, one thing I do know is that no matter what my fear, my God is bigger than my enemy and because of that I can rest assured that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne