When I was a child, I had all sorts of dreams. I wanted to become a doctor, a singer, a teacher, a pilot, and many other things. I dreamed that I would be somewhere in the world someday helping people in need, and I dreamed that I would be in space seeing things I have never seen before. In those years, the possibilities were endless.
What’s cool about a child’s dreams is that they show a child’s heart. Children are so carefree and they are not yet defined by the world’s standards. They are not concerned about meeting one’s expectations quite yet, so they have fun with life as much as they can. How many of us can still dream like a child? How many times in a day when you think of something you want to do, you are concerned about what others may think?
What I am referring to here is not an escape of responsibilities and to encourage you to do whatever you want without boundaries. My point is, many of us are so afraid of what other people think, so afraid of failing, so afraid of what may happen, and we simply stop living. We may feel so bored or mistreated at our job, and we refuse to change anything. We may be in an abusive relationship but we don’t want to get out because we don’t know what it would be like to live without a certain person. From big decisions to small tasks in daily lives, we are often held back by fear.
If you think back in your life, have you ever pursued something wholeheartedly? Have you done something you believe was God’s will even when other people didn’t agree with you? What was it like? How did you feel? If we live our lives based on what God wants us to do without holding back, what would our lives look like?
There is a great example in the Bible where we can see God’s plans versus man’s fear. In Exodus 3, God reached out to Moses and told him about His plans. He asked Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, because He had heard their cry. But Moses, who was not so sure and confident of himself, told God that he’s nobody, as if God didn’t already know what He was doing. He also had the guts to tell God that he didn’t know what to say to the Israelites, but God patiently answered Moses’ questions and reassured him of His power and will. If Moses hadn’t done what God asked him to do, would he have accomplished as much in his life?
We may laugh at Moses for his stupidity on how he responded to God, but how many times did we respond to God in the same way? How many times did we decide not to do something even when we knew it’s the right thing to do?
Undeniably, Moses was a great man of God, but he was also weak at times like all of us, and it cost him some great things in life. In Numbers chapter 20, God asked Moses to speak to the rock in front of the Israelites, so that water would come out of it. Although Moses did perform a miracle and drew water from the rock, he didn’t speak to it like God had instructed. Instead, he hit the rock twice, because that’s what he did before and it worked. This may not seem like a big deal because in the end, the Israelites still had water to drink, but it was a big deal to God because Moses openly disobeyed God as a leader to the Israelites. The result of this act of disobedience was he would not get to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. I can’t imagine how regretful Moses was at the time. I bet if he could do it again, he would have obeyed God instead of trusting his own thinking.
The incident Moses encountered showed us how important obedience is to God, but it also showed us how merciful God is even when we did not act according to His will. After Moses died, God had raised up Joshua as the leader to lead the Israelites. Regardless of all the disobedience and grumbling from the people, God still wanted to bless the Israelites with the Promised Land. Joshua chapter 1 was truly an amazing passage, because God promised to be with Joshua like He did with Moses. And since God already knew how scary this task was for Joshua, He reminded Joshua three times in verse 5, 7, and 9 to be strong and courageous, and not be afraid.
What is the Promised Land God has for us? Could we have already gotten there if we had not been held back by our fear? What would it be like to look back and knew that we have trusted God every step of the way? Undeniably, living life to the fullest is beyond scary, but the joy this full life could bring is also beyond our imagination. So, what does it take to live a full life?
First of all, we must know God deeply. If we only rely on our own strength and own understanding, then we will only move toward the direction of this world. There would be no miracles to see and no glory to give to God. On the other hand, there are many lies Satan plants in our minds, such as, “you are incompetent”, “this is too risky”, “people won’t like you if you speak the truth”, “you are not good enough to do this”, etc. Without being deeply grounded in His truth, how do we expect to live a bold and courageous life? We may believe that we live a decent life, but that is still not pleasing to the Lord because it’s not His will for us to live without His purpose. However, if we truly know the good God who still chose to bless the Israelites after being betrayed so many times, then we can trust Him and rest in His mercies; we can be bold and act according to His will.
Secondly, we must let His love change our lives. If you have been in love before, you may have experienced a time when how other people look at you does not matter anymore, because you are loved and accepted by someone. When you feel loved, suddenly you have all the adventurous spirit and you are willing to try new things you weren’t dare to try before because someone who cares deeply about you is doing it with you. I hope God’s love has the same effect on you like I have mentioned above. We are familiar with the incident when Peter denied Jesus three times, because he was afraid. But we also know how Peter died for Christ as a martyr later in his life. What changed? I believe when Peter saw Jesus again after His resurrection, he had a new understanding of God’s love. He saw a love he didn’t see before and it gave him all the courage and strength to live with God’s purpose fully. God’s love is constant and it never changes, but we need to open our hearts to let it change us. It takes humility, patience, and endurance for it to impact us deeply.
What kind of life would you like to live? A life to meet this world’s expectation or a life that is full based on God’s standards? A life that’s directed by fear or a life directed by faith? If you die tomorrow, would you live your life differently today? I don’t want to look back in 10 years and regret the things I didn’t do because I was too afraid. So, let’s start to live fully now. And let us love people so deeply with Christ’s love until it hurts even when there is no return, because we don’t know if we still have tomorrow. If there is one more day for our lights to shine for Christ, then let us shine it to the brightest before we meet Him face-to-face.
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”