So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground – Matthew 25:25a (NIV)
The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Do you know what an invisible fence is? If you live in a suburban or rural area in United States, you likely do. An invisible “fence” consists of a wire buried around the perimeter of a yard. The wire transmits a mild static electric shock to a receiver located in a dog collar. Any time a dog wearing a receiver-equipped collar approaches the fence, the dog receives an uncomfortable, but nonlethal, shock. After a short time, with the assistance of a trainer, the dog learns where the boundaries of the fence are located and stays confined therein.
Over the last several days, I’ve been reflecting on 2012. By some measures, it was a pretty pedestrian year, a cocktail of successes, failures, victories, defeats, breakthroughs and setbacks. My career went a little sideways, but it was that movement that really caused me to embrace my true passion (see my previous blog entry, Are You Making Tent or Pursuing Your Calling?). After a previously aborted attempt, I got serious about blogging consistently, writing 26 posts. I got to travel more for pleasure than I have in recent memory, including a family vacation with my brother and in his family to the St. John in the US Virgin Islands. (That is certainly not our “typical” family vacation.)
I looked back at the things I failed to accomplish last year for clues as to their root causes. Was I constrained by other people, finances or health? No. In the vast majority of cases the answer was one four letter word beginning with an “f”- “fear.” I had erected my own invisible fence of fear. I allowed feelings of anxiety and in some cases dread to keep my within a confined space. I allowed fear to “train” me like a dog wearing a receiver-embedded collar. There are several similarities to fear and the invisible fence:
- While both are extremely uncomfortable, but neither is truly life threatening.
- Both are confining
- Beyond both lay freedom.
In 2013 I am committed to push against the limits of my invisible fence. I am committed to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for me” (Heb. 12:1). Will I always be successful? No, but that’s where the perseverance part come in. If I set out to do this in my own strength, I will fail miserably, but I serve a God who has promised to displace my fear with his power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).
The scripture snippet in the introduction of this post is from a parable that Jesus tells of three servants entrusted with talents (Matt 25:14-30). Two of the three servants invested their talents wisely and earned a return for their master. The third servant, motivated by fear, hid his talent, earning nothing. I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a way that yields a return.
I leave you with this quote that I came across credited to Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”