Many of us make new year resolutions, looking forward to a better and brighter 2017, even though we do not have the ability to forecast and/or control our circumstances. If we base our outlook on past negative experiences, we may view this new year with much apprehension and fear. Will this year be any different from past years?
Some time ago, I read an article about the way lions hunt for food. Usually, it is the lioness and not the lion, that does the hard work of catching prey. However, the lion does have an important role — that of approaching its targets from the front, roaring and terrifying the confused animals into panic. In most cases, the gazelle or wild beast would instinctively run away, and this is when they make the fatal mistake. Running away from the source of their fears actually puts them right smack into the path of the waiting lioness. Unknown to them, the one that did the roaring is more bark than bite.
The lesson learned from this episode is that “when you run away from things that scare you, you move towards danger, not away from it. If you fail to face your fears, they will always be right there behind you.”
This article also reminded me of my own experience many years ago. I was in a remote Indonesian island trying to reach a small Chinese community with the Gospel. It was around the Chinese New Year season. One evening, the whole village crossed over by boat to another village for their Chinese New Year dinner. I was alone in the home of my Chinese host. Soon the night covers the village like a thick blanket. At first, I endured the deathly silence. But soon, I began to feel uneasy about the place. I tried to sleep but I was disturbed by the slightest sounds coming from outside. I tried to calm myself by reciting Scripture verses and praying. Finally, I realized that I must do something about this fear. I got up and walked straight into the darkness though I could not see anything outside. With every step, I praise God aloud. It was amazing! Though the darkness was still there, I felt the presence of the Lord. I was not alone. I knew He was with me. I went back to bed and slept like a baby.
What in your life are you being called to right now? Whatever it is, you must not let fear play a part in your decision-making. You cannot ignore fear, but you do not have to let it control you. True bravery is not the absence of fear; it is being afraid and moving forward by faith anyway.
Running towards the roar can be intimidating, and there are no guarantees. When you live a life of faith, there are going to be questions that have no answers, because for there to be faith, there has to be mystery. Let us then, walk in the dark with God. Then, and only then, will 2017 be a bright and glorious year for all of us.
Rev. Mark Tay