We might well pray for God to invade and conquer us, for until He does, we remain in peril from a thousand foes. We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration. Our moral imprudence puts us always in danger of accidental or reckless self-destruction. The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. Then He invades our natures with that ancient and eternal life which is from the beginning. So He conquers us and by that benign conquest saves us for Himself.A. W. Tozer in The Divine Conquest
In “Mere Christianity“, C. S. Lewis describes the commonplace idea that our actions do not effect each other. He puts it this way: if we are all ships as part of an envoy, then we have three main objectives:
- Don’t run into each other
- Don’t sink or turn astray
- Don’t neglect the ship that was lent to you
We seem to understand the first rule and socially frown upon those that interfere with the lives of others. But we seem to think that it’s perfectly fine if we behave wrongly, “because it only effects me.” That would be great if it were true.
But our actions and decisions don’t just effect us. The selfishness of suicide or the addiction to pornography… these violations of the rule of mankind are not secret and not secluded. Every decision we make has an effect on our own lives and those around us.
To think that our actions do not have consequence and that those consequences do not effect others is absurd. This thinking also ignores the third objective — this life we live and the body we possess is not our own. We cannot add one hair to our head or one day to our lives.
But we’ll answer to the One who can.
As you navigate the waters of right and wrong, choose obedience, not obstinance. Your life matters and, if surrendered to the Creator, has magnificent purpose. Just choose to submit to the author and designer of your ship and this world — He is both the shipwright and the cartographer — He knows best.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
This question is in the same difficult category as “what would you do for a job if money wasn’t an issue?” Most would write off this idea because you say, “but money is an issue” or “failure is a possibility.”
And it hurts, doesn’t it. Failure hurts. We fear it deeply, like it’s ingrained in us from our early years of falling down and scraping our knees. But what I don’t understand is why fear of failure has taken a hold of us so ruthlessly.
Rub some dirt in it
Didn’t we get up from those falls after all? What failure, exactly, are we so afraid of that is keeping us from living life fully? Are the consequences so permanent that we must live in paralysis? I mean, take a moment to consider: is it truly better to risk your entire life secluded in a chrysalis of safety than to choose a valiant story living on the other side of metamorphosis?
What are we really afraid of?
Sticking with the butterfly analogy: do we think our wings will get damaged if we try to fly? Will they think our markings ugly? Or is it simply the fear of the unknown? Perhaps slinking around as a caterpillar is sufficient risk and we can’t bare to think of our lives on the mysterious other side of the cocoon.
Fail already — There is freedom in failure!
I listened to a great podcast on NPR’s Freakonomics Radio that suggested we stand on the other side of failure and look at the mess. Envision yourself having already fouled up.
Now that you’ve acknowledged failure, what do you see? Was it really that bad? What exactly happened? If the consequence of failure is really that legitimate, is it also impossible to mitigate? Create your safety net to protect against death and then step off the ledge! Fear shouldn’t keep you in the car, when you’ve got the opportunity to experience life in the harness.
Go ahead… live free, fail fast, get up and do it again! The only true failure is staying paralyzed in fear.