I stood at the mouth of the precipice suited up, my harness secure. Looking down into the mist of the cave below, I couldn’t see the bottom, all I could see was darkness. I had been excited on our drive out to the cave. We were going to repel down 330 feet into a cave in the middle of New Zealand known as “The Lost World.” I’m an adventurous girl, stuff like this usually doesn’t scare me; but as I stood peering over the ledge that day, I froze. Fear completely consumed my body and my legs began to shake. My mind spun with questions – “What is at the bottom of this cave?” “What if the brake fails and I can’t stop myself?” “What if my rope breaks?” “What if I start dropping too fast?” And most importantly, “what if I step out onto the launch platform and slip off? Will I drop to the bottom?” I stood there for a good 10 minutes, completely paralyzed, squeaking out the words “I don’t think I can do this” to my husband and our patient guide who sat on the narrow plank waiting to begin the repel. They tried coaxing and they trying reassuring, but their words bounced off the ever-growing cyclone of fear in my mind. I managed to ask our guide my most pressing question…”If I step out there and slip off, what will happen?” With that, he slid his body off the plank and immediately the rope locked into place and he hung mid-air while the rope easily held his weight. “The rope is designed with a fail-safe brake, you have to release it to descend down, if you are not releasing it, you can’t move,” he told me. That was all it took. I stepped onto that plank with confidence and began the gentle descent into what truly was an entire underground world. The beauty of this “other world” was breathtaking. The pitch-black cave ceiling was filled with glowworms, the “stars” of this underground universe. We traversed stalactites and stalagmites, mini streams and large deep pools. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Had I never been brave enough to step off that ledge, I would have missed it.
How often do we do this in our faith? We know we need to take a step into something God has asked us to, but we can’t see the bottom (the end). Sometimes it is so scary to us that we become paralyzed with fear. Even if we’ve prepared, and we know we’ve “suited” up through prayer and the Word, when it comes to the point of stepping off that ledge, we freeze. Sometimes our fear is so deep rooted that we spend months, even years afraid to take that step…and we are missing the stunning beauty and powerful experiences that lie on the other side of that step. Here are 3 reasons why I believe we become paralyzed with fear...
1. WE ARE TRYING TO DO IT IN OUR OWN STRENGTH
When it comes to taking steps of faith, I think we often make the mistake of thinking we have to rely on our own knowledge and skill sets to make it happen. God has certainly gifted us with skills that will be helpful in the things he calls us to, but it is literally impossible to complete any task God calls us to without His help. When Esther made the decision to ask the king to save her people (Esther 4), she could have easily decided to rely on her relationship with the King, her skills of persuasion and her knowledge of the palace; but she knew that without God, the likelihood of her being put to death was extremely high. So, with great wisdom she sought God’s favor and direction through prayer and fasting. She did not attempt to take on this great task in her own strength, but relied fully on the strength of the Lord, believing that WITH Him, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
2. WE HAVEN'T BUILT OUR "TRUST/FAITH" MUSCLE
Trust in God isn’t something that happens overnight. We don’t wake up one morning and have the ability to trust Him 100%. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not; and God knows that about us. He knows that we need Him to show us that we can trust him. So trust begins small, just like building muscle. You have to start with a small weight and gradually increase the weight to continue building and growing that muscle. God is gracious to give us “small” things with which we must trust him and as we trust him he begins to grow our trust bigger and bigger until the huge things we must trust him with don’t seem that difficult to do. He will show himself faithful again and again as we step out in faith and trust, but we have to take that first small step to begin the process of building trust.
3. WE'RE LOOKING AT THE UNKNOWN, INSTEAD OF LOOKING INTO THE FACE OF GOD
Maybe you’ve taken the first step off the ledge and began your journey to the unknown, but somewhere in the process, you stopped paying attention to the task at hand. You stopped daily seeking out the face of God and his strength to continue walking you through and you began to look at the circumstances around you and that deep dark bottom again. I think of the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. Peter was a fisherman, so we can assume he knew the rivers, tides, storms, and waves well. When Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk across the water to him, all was going well until he took his eyes off Jesus. As he began to look at the waves and the storm around him, he began to rely on his “knowledge” of the situation rather than staying focused on the One who had called him out of the boat, the one who He knew he could trust wholeheartedly. When we keep our mind and heart focused on the Father, it keeps us from being distracted by the “what ifs” and the circumstances around us.
Bravery isn’t something we must muster within ourselves, bravery is being confident that He who lives in us and walks beside us is greater than anything in this world. Just like I had to release that brake on my rope to begin my descent, we must release our grip on fear and the unknown and allow God to gently and slowly move us into unfathomable beauty. So be bold and be brave! You are not alone, you are preceded by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Hi! I'm Dezerai, a woman passionate about living in my purpose, about creating a life on purpose and about challenging you to do the same. I speak, I write, and I hang out with my husky and my handsome husband in the beautiful Napa Valley.