Life can be mind-numbingly boring. Motivation is often hard to find. Sometimes the only motivation we have is the sway of wanting a bigger TV or an overseas holiday. This drives our actions to save rather than spend on our regular "luxuries".
The power of fear to motivate
Recently, I heard of a guy who unwisely entered a triathlon. He hadn't been cycling or swimming for over 20 years and the race was only six weeks away! This was no ordinary triathlon, it was an Ironman: 3.8km ocean open water swim, 180km bike ride and a full 42km marathon—a 14 hour day. Nothing like fear to get you out training! Nothing like fear to make you take a task seriously.
The attraction of extreme events, triathlons, marathons etc. is part of our desire to go beyond the mundane grind of daily life. It is exploring the taste of fear and seeing how sweet or bitter it is and hopefully growing through the process as we conquer or fall.
This is living! For some it is an endurance event like an Ironman. For others it is the challenge of a new career path. For others it is the fear of restoring a broken relationship. Fear, like the challenges it reveals, is everywhere.
Moving beyond comfortable
Do you think this is crazy talk? Well, what is the alternative? Complacency? Go with the flow?
As all of life is spiritual, it is the same paradigm for our faith. A comfortable faith, happy to not read any new books or challenging parts of the Bible, is content with a Jesus who stays in His box and doesn't shake our trees.
However, as you read the Book of Acts and the history of the early church, you read about a faith inspired by fear and the challenge to trust in Jesus on this journey.
Sometimes churches can be like this—so comfortable they never attempt a challenge. Happy to do the same thing they did last week, last year, last decade. Not challenged by Christ's command of sanctification or growing in their collective faith.
On the other side, I know a church that declared they never want their own church building. Instead the local community hall is "home" and keeps them in the community. It frees them up to sink their energy into their mission rather than focus on a building.
This is a bit like the early church—which was focused on helping the poor and sharing the Good News. This is before Christianity became the national religion. Then, everyone moved from the "Missions Committee" to the "Board of Management" and focused on building buildings, not people.
Trust in God
For a challenge wrestle with these passages: 1 John chapter 4, verse 18 and Psalms chapter 34, verse 4. Our fears should motivate us to action and bring us back to Him and His goodness. In eternally providing for us and ultimately conquering all our fears. This is comforting.
Putting yourself out of your comfort zone produces fear. It also challenges you to trust in God and His kingdom, not your own. You may not be rushing out to do an Ironman in six weeks, but consider your own position. Is your comfortable lifestyle numbing your passion and faith? If so, maybe it is time to taste some fear.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor.
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html