Motivational speaker Les Brown has said, “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” I believe this is true, and it is the reason I am spending four weeks exploring how to identify and overcome fear in our lives.
Last week we learned one sign you are living in fear is that you rarely leave your comfort zone. When you give in to tendencies to remain in areas of familiarity and comfort, you end up stunting your growth along the way. I hope you have made an effort to do something this week that has pushed you from fear to courage and from safety to risk.
Today I hope to give you a little motivation to take steps away from fear and toward courage by asking the simple question “What if?” This question has the power to propel you forward, and it has the ability to hold you back. It all comes down to how you ask the question.
One sign you are living in fear is you ask the wrong "What if.....?"
We all ask the questions. What if it rains? What if it’s too hot? What if she rejects me? What if we had stopped for gas earlier? What if all the people on earth jumped at the same time? Some of the “what ifs” are humorous. Many of them are about past events we have no control over (like the ones I’ve been asking this week about my team’s loss in the National Championship game. But I’m over that :)). Most of the what ifs we ask are about the future. The way we look at the future makes all the difference. In looking to the future you can ask “what ifs” about the possibilities of failure, sickness, rejection, and pain: what if I fail or get sick or no one likes me or I lose my money in the stock market? Or you can ask “what ifs” about success, health, acceptance and joy: what if I succeed, what if she says “yes,” or what if they love my proposal? The way we ask the question will either point to hope and victory or fear and defeat.
Last week we began looking at the story of Peter walking on the water found in Matthew chapter 14. I imagine there may have been some “what ifs” being asked in the boat that day: “What if the storm doesn’t stop?”, “what if we die out here?”, or “what if we had stayed back on shore where it was safe?” But Peter asked a different what if. At some point Peter asked himself, “What if I tried to walk on water?”, “What if I leave the little security I have behind in this boat?”, “what if I do something different than the other 11 disciples?” No one had ever walked on water before. It defied the laws of gravity and common sense. But risk takers are not easily swayed by those seven deadly words “it's never been done that way before." Instead they are propelled by seven different words: “What if this were the first time?”
History knows not the names of all who have lived in fear. Rather, it is full of those who have uttered the two simple but hopeful words, “What if?” Ben Franklin once asked, “What if I flew a kite in a thunderstorm?” Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. asked, “What if I stood up for my deepest convictions?" JFK said, “What if we send a man to walk on the moon?” Asking the “what if” questions are scary and will inevitably lead to mockery, misunderstanding, or even persecution. They will also lead to courage. The avenue to courage must always pass through the intersection of fear along the way. Are you currently moving through an intersection of fear? What can you do to to keep fear from slowing you down?
Say “no” to fear this week by asking “what if?”