Sunday, February 10, 2013

Benchmark #4: Courage

There was one day I wrote about reaching a point where I was no longer afraid of CF. That WOD (Laredo) involved one of my fears (that would be of running) and yet I went and stared it down and finished. Friday, however, was not one of those days. It was the Filthy Fifty WOD and for some reason I felt completely freaked out. I was afraid. At the time I was not entirely sure why, but if I break it down I can probably figure it out.

1. I was afraid of the pain.
2. I was afraid that I would not be able to finish.
3. I was afraid that the coaches would be disappointed with my performance.
4. I was afraid to admit that I would need to scale some, afraid to admit to weakness.
5. Ultimately, I was afraid of what others would think of me if I couldn't do it...

When it was over I felt silly for having been so afraid, and had to ask myself, "Really? You were AFRAID of those things?" Well, yes...yes, I was.

I haven't spoken a lot about my faith in this blog, but this issue of fear and courage is one that is inextricably linked to my spiritual journey. While I don't think that CrossFit is a religious experience (though for many I'm sure it is), it is challenging my faith in ways I never realized it needed to be challenged, and being a soul contained in a physical body, I cannot consider my faith and fitness to be mutually exclusive. CF has certainly caused me to confront some fears that I have held for a long time and I don't just mean a fear of running! Rather, they are issues that go down to the very core of my character, and it takes courage to even admit that these things need to be addressed. When I am challenged in my faith, I have to return to scripture to sort things out, and in so doing I have been pondering this truth:
(II Timothy 1:7) God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control
To put this in context, it should be noted that the Apostle Paul is writing this to his son in the faith--a young man who has seen the church ravaged by those who wanted to snuff out the Gospel of Christ and his followers. Paul is writing from prison, and this letter contains his last instructions to Timothy before he (Paul) is executed. Paul is not afraid. He is not ashamed. In spite of the real and present danger to his own life, he has chosen not to fear, because fear is not from God. Conversely, Paul has chosen to trust God with his life, knowing that it was only beginning and eternity awaited him on the other side. His identity came not from what he had done or what his accusers said about him, but what from what God had called him to do and to be, and he needed only to answer to Him. He fully embraced that spirit of power, love and self-control, using them to make the choice to defy fear and trust God entirely. His actions and choices changed the course of history. I doubt that mine are so significant, but Paul's God is my God and he loves me no less.

So, if fear is not from a loving God, then where / who does it come from? I'll let you answer that one yourself...If I am not trusting God, then I am choosing to embrace a lie that originates with the father of lies, and by embracing anything other than the truth of my God, I am in error, or if you can handle the word--sin.

As I look at my list of fears, they all boil down to "fear of man," and for you inclusive language folks, that means fear of people, not men.
(Proverbs 29:25) The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is safe.
What?! The fear of man lays a trap for me. It is not man that lays the trap but fear! What trap? Whatever my mind and the lies have conjured up for me to imagine is there. If I fear that there are traps laid for me without any proof of their existence, then I will resist travelling a given path, regardless of what the truth about it actually is. By fearing, I miss God's will for my life--his best for me. Fear is absolutely, positively, a choice. Self-control must prevail in order not to fear.

Here's one more:
(I John 4:18) There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
The love that is referred to here is God's love--his perfect, cleansing love that promises me eternal life through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God promises that if I choose to identify with that, then I do not have to face eternal punishment. With that knowledge, do I have any need to fear anything? Anyone? A box jump? A mile of running? A bit of pain that is fleeting, and will only make me stronger in the end? God commanded Joshua the following before he led a nation of people into a land where they were going to essentially invade and overtake a hostile people:
(Joshua 1:9) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
It would seem that Joshua had real reasons to be afraid, but he did not--God was with him. He is with me. That same God that parted the Red Sea and flattened the walls of Jericho is present daily in me by his Spirit. I have nothing to fear--and certainly nothing that CF can hand me.

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