Every day we face new ventures, dark horizons, and challenging obstacles. It could be a move to a new city, a change of jobs, attending a different school, or moving to a new neighborhood.
Facing the unknown is difficult. It is like stepping from the light into the darkness. It can be a terrifying experience leaving behind everything familiar to face the uncertainty.
One can face the unknown with confidence by applying these two ideas.
Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. To be afraid is normal. If it is out of control, fear is the most paralyzing emotion of all. Fear makes a person doubt their abilities and paralyzes the free use of their talents.
In the ancient Greek language, the word for fear meant flight. It’s the picture of pheasants being flushed from their nesting areas and flying because they have been frightened by the approaching danger of a hunter. It is the soldier in battle fleeing the enemy when being shot. “Did you hear those bullets?” asked one soldier to another. “Twice,” he said, “once when they went past me and once when I passed them.”
While fear is present when facing many of life’s unknowns it does not have to paralyze us. Moving to a new community, changing jobs, making new friends, attending a new church can all be fear-producing events. But they don’t have to erode our fulfillment in life.
One faces their fears with fact. God says that we do not have to fear because his presence accompanies us through the unknown events of life. God is saying that we can walk into the unknown because he walks with us. It’s only two words—fear not—easier to say than to practice, but easier to practice when we know that God’s presence accompanies us.
Paul Tournier wrote, “We must always be letting go . . . leaving one place in order to find another, abandoning one support in order to reach the next, turning our backs on the past in order to thrust wholeheartedly toward the future.”
I did not learn to swim until I was eleven years old. I always had this healthy respect for the water. I was cautious. When my wife and I were vacationing in Cancun, Mexico we decided to go snorkeling. Mostly she chose, and I went along. We were taken out to an area that supposedly had beautiful coral reefs and exotic fish. The water was choppy that day, and I spent more time spitting salt water out of my snorkel than looking at fish. A couple of times I thought I was going to drown. I couldn’t have been happier when we got back to dry land.
A few years later my wife and I went to Maui. Everyone said you have to go snorkeling. A favorite place for the locals and vacationers was just a short walk down the beach from where we were staying. Again, my wife wanted to go. So again I complied. We proceeded to the water, which was peaceful and calm. Out from the shoreline beneath the water’s surface were incredible rock formations that created a natural aquarium with multi-colored fish swimming in all directions. It was indeed a sight to behold. But it was only experienced as I let go of my past fears and reluctance. If I had held on to those memories, I would have never experienced a serendipitous moment.
When you step into the unknown, it often feels as though the rug of your life has been pulled out from under you. But remember that if the carpet has been pulled out, God is under the carpet. He will catch you, support you, encourage you, and soften the blow of the fall. You can count on him for that. He can be trusted.