(A Guest Post, by Keifer Lucchi.)
Generally, we are taught that we have two choices when it comes to our fears. When our adrenaline kicks in, we have two decisions we can make — fight, or flight.
Our fears either drive us or paralyze us. They either become the force that pushes us on and on, or they are the reason we hide away and do nothing.
For me, fear is usually a driver. I fight with everything. I have to bring resolution to my fears and conquer them. I HATE loose ends. I hate it when there is something outside of my control that I can’t fix. If there is an area that I’m afraid of, I either fight to overcome that fear, or I remove it. I used to convince myself that this was the best choice, the brave choice, maybe. If my only two choices were to hide or fight, then fighting was the better one.
But there are some things that I can’t fight. No matter how hard I try and no matter what I do, there are things in this world that I simply can’t change. I’ve learned this more than ever since I moved to the Czech Republic. Suddenly, things that used to be simple were difficult. When I first got here, I found that activities like shopping for food and cooking were completely different. The “cheap and easy” meals that I knew how to make were suddenly not only expensive — some of them I couldn’t even find the ingredients for. I had to learn new ways to do things that had once been simple. I didn’t know what a good price was for something, or a bad price, or even what I could find. I had to learn to only buy what I could carry because I didn’t own a car. I had to learn how much I could NOT carry — sometimes through the process of dropping things on the ground several times in a row, feeling embarrassed as people walked by wondering why this weird American couldn’t take care of himself.
I learned that I had to ask people for help to do simple tasks, like starting a bank account, getting directions, and teaching a class. And because of the language difference, just talking to someone and trying to be a friend suddenly became extremely hard.
Even staying in the Czech Republic and being allowed to live here was hard. And you know what? I learned that no matter how hard I fought, and worked, and did all of the things I needed to do, there were still things that I didn’t know, didn’t expect, and couldn’t handle. And it KEPT happening. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t strong enough to fight all of the battles I needed to fight. Suddenly, more than anything else, I just wanted to hide. I wanted to disappear.
I mean, if fight or flight are the only options, then flight was my only other choice.
The Bible actually doesn’t agree with this.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
Wait, so which is better? Fight or flight? If you take verse 28 by itself, it sounds like Jesus is saying to give Him your trouble, and leave all the work to Him. But the very next verse talks about taking on His yoke. It also says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
That doesn’t sound like fight or flight to me. I think that, in reality, there is a third option, a harder option.
Now, I’m sure we’re all thinking a little sleep sounds fantastic, especially after a long week, but that isn’t what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about a different kind of rest. “Rest for your soul.” This means having confidence in the fact that God will take care of us, even when we don’t know how He will do it. This kind of rest can only be found when we give our burdens to Jesus and trust Him to only give us the new burdens we can handle and carry. Every day we give Him our worries, our fears, and the impossible things in our lives, and every day He gives us what we need to carry for that day. He takes care of the rest.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
Wait. Stop. It sounds like Jesus is saying that we are going to have problems if we follow Him. But He wants us to have peace even when we experience those problems. We are supposed to know that He has already overcome the world.
Not exactly easy. I still have so many problems with this sort of attitude. And, it turns out, so did Jesus’ disciples.
“One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’” (Luke 8:22-25 ESV)
Let’s look at what happens in this story. Jesus tells the disciples where they are going, and that He is going with them. Often this is how He sets us on the journey as well.
As the journey goes on, Jesus falls asleep. He gets quiet. The disciples aren’t hearing his voice at the moment. Unless, of course, Jesus snored.
Then the storm comes, and the disciples start to think that maybe Jesus won’t save them after all. The waves get bigger, the wind gets louder, and soon they aren’t looking at Jesus at all. They’re looking at the waves. Jesus, on the other hand, is fully at peace in the storm.
When I first came to the Czech Republic, it was sort of like this. I heard Jesus’ voice telling me to “go across to the other side of the lake.” The lake was bigger, but we have airplanes now, so I wasn’t too worried. I came because I believed, and still believe, that there are people in the Czech Republic who need to know love like the love of Jesus. I believe that God loves each of you individually. I came knowing it would be hard, but that there are frightened people in the Czech Republic who God wants to know, and walk with, and bring peace to.
And, in the end, I’m the frightened one most of the time. I see the waves and hear the wind just like the disciples, and say, “Jesus! Save me! I’m going to drown!”
But Jesus has never let me drown once.
And He won’t let you drown either.
Keifer is starting his second year as a missionary in the Czech Republic, and he couldn’t be more excited. His ministry to youth and his media ministry are expanding, and his grasp of the Czech language has only gotten stronger. Add in time with friends and ministry “family” and you get just a glimpse of how busy his week is. And yet he still finds opportunities to learn and grow and rest in the Lord. This blog post is adapted from a sermon he recently gave.