Out of the Harbor – by Laura Urista
A recent news headline caught my attention – it said “If you have an office job – this is the most dangerous thing you will do all day.” Well, I work in an office so I had to read that article! Guess what it said? The most dangerous thing I do all day is sit. Our bodies were made to move around. We weren’t created to sit all day. The article said that even if you just stand up and move around for a few minutes every hour it can increase your life expectancy.
Then I thought of my ancestors. My great grandmother lived to be over 100. My grandma, Olga, lived to be age 98. She was born in the late 1800s on a homestead in North Dakota. I don’t remember Grandma ever driving a car. I do remember seeing a picture of her as a young woman riding a bike.
But most of all I remember her walking. She had to walk almost everywhere she went – even in the snow! For a large part of her life, Grandma had to fetch water in buckets, stack wood in the fire, scrub clothes by hand, hang them out to dry, chop and stir food, scrub the dishes, sew or crochet clothing. These days most of us sit in a car to drive where we want to go, we turn on a faucet to get water, and we push a button to do laundry or dishes. But our bodies were created to be active.
We were created to be active, spiritually, as well. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” That’s from the New Living Translation. But I love the way The Message translation puts it: “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” (emphasis mine).
So what keeps us from doing the good work Christ wants us to join him in? What keeps us from moving when the Spirit prompts us? Most of the time what stops me is fear. Fear of being rejected or embarrassed. Fear of not being good enough. Mostly fear of the unknown. A friend of mine often ends her emails with this quote: “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for” (John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928).
Fear can paralyze us and keep us from doing what we were built for. Fear can keep us stuck in the safe harbor of our lives instead of sailing into the wide, open sea of life. So how do we overcome fear? Fear is a common human emotion – I did a quick Bible search and the term “fear not” came up over 100 times.
Remember the cartoon character from the 1970’s called Underdog? Whenever Sweet Polly Purebred was in trouble, Underdog would swoop down to save her from distress. In his best superhero voice he would shout: “There’s no need to fear – Underdog is here!”
Do you ever wish for a superhero to swoop you away from your fears? We have the ultimate Superhero of all time, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can trust in him to help us overcome fear, and in fact, he provides the very antidote to fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….” (1 John 4:18, emphasis mine).
But how can we get that perfect love? It’s certainly not something we can work up by our own human efforts. The very next verse gives the answer! 1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” Only God is the Source of that perfect love. He enables us to remain close to him and be connected to him, dying daily to our own selves and allowing him to live in us and love through us.
For the past few years, I have been praying this simple prayer every morning and throughout the day: “Lord, please live in me and love through me.” It takes less than two seconds, but saying that prayer has made a big difference in my life. I’ve noticed that since I started asking him to live in me and love through me, I see people differently. Like the theme song from the movie Ice Castles, I’m finding it easier to see people by “looking through the eyes of love.”
With Christ living in us, and loving through us, we can overcome the fear that paralyzes us from yielding to him so that he can produce his works in us and through us. As we remain in him, he enables us to sail away from our safe harbors and boldly shout in our best superhero voices: “There’s no need to fear – Christ is living here!”
Laura Urista is managing editor of Plain Truth and Christianity Without the Religion magazine.