When it comes to thinking about your life and the future… career, relationships, life decisions, etc… I have come to realize there are two types of fear that are often encountered. They are both rooted in “what if”, but they are very different.
The first is “what if it doesn’t…”, which can tend to have a paralyzing effect, keeping you tethered to the familiar. The thoughts of it all falling apart keep a lot of people nestled in a comfort zone where, although not ideal, is consistent, predictable and safe.
The second and, in my experience, more powerful is “what if it does…” This type can have an equally paralyzing effect, also hindering many people from cutting the proverbial umbilical cord, stepping into the unfamiliar and embracing the uncertain. But here is where the road divides and the two are different. Rather than thoughts of it all falling apart, this type of fear brings with it thoughts of “what if it works and changes everything.”
I believe it is the second type of fear that tends to be a catalyst to faith… when you no longer view your options as options at all, because quite often, options can be the enemy of faith. When you realize that everything in your life could completely change and even though you have no idea what that might look like you are ready to embrace what’s next… that’s when things begin to happen.
Some people have lived a certain way, with a particular mindset or pattern for so long and have become quite accustomed to their situation. They believe they have options and while they might do something different “someday”, for now they are just fine. They believe that it is what it is, and fear of the waves keeps them on the shore.
Then there are the kind of people who choose to shed the notion of options and embrace the challenge that comes with facing the second type of fear, where the fear of staying on the shore pushes them out onto the waves.
I believe this was the kind of man Jesus encountered in Luke 18. How long this man had been blind was immaterial. When he heard Jesus was passing by, he knew his only other option was to continue to sit and beg… blind. I believe he had gotten to the point where, if he was honest, that really wasn’t an option at all. Surely he had built a lifestyle around his situation, one that catered to his particular dysfunction, but he was tired of that. Staying the same was no longer optional, so he took a risk. He called out to Jesus.
Jesus had the blind man brought to Him, and when he came near Jesus asked him, “what do you want me to do for you?” What kind of question was THAT!? Obviously the man was blind. He wasn’t likely to ask for food or clothing. He wasn’t begging for money, he was begging for mercy. But if you look closer at the scenario, Jesus wasn’t uninformed. He was challenging this man’s limitations. He was essentially saying, “before I do this, I want to make sure, is this what you want?” Jesus knew that if He performed this miracle, it would change everything for the blind man. So before he went any further, he was basically saying, “are you sure? Because once I do, you won’t be able to stay here anymore. This miracle will destroy your comfort zone.”
The blind man replied, “I want to see.” He knew what it meant. He knew that he would have to build a whole new life that was no longer co-dependent on his disability. But he wanted it. Jesus never even touched him, but he was changed forever.
The Bible says God has “planted eternity in the hearts of men.” There is something powerful about encountering a pivotal moment that connects with the seed of eternity planted in each of us. It is grace, a window of opportunity when we are empowered to step outside the bounds of everything that has convinced us things will never change. It challenges our limitations and tells us to do something we never thought we could do before. Something like… telling a blind man to see.
What are you afraid of? Does the fear of the waves keep you on the shore? Or does the fear of the shore push you out onto the waves?