It’s quickly become one of our favorite family activities here in Dodge. It seems to be the one thing all the girls can agree on for a brief family outing, the waterpark! As the trips pile up, I’ve grown particularly fond of what’s known as, the Lazy River. It’s a beautiful thing, perhaps one of God’s greatest inventions. Grab a raft, lay down, relax and let the current take you round and round. One of the things I enjoy most (besides beating the 100 degree summer days in Dodge) is that it’s safe. It’s easy. It’s relaxing. It’s predictable. Disruptions and distractions are nonfactor here.
Meanwhile, our oldest daughters want absolutely nothing to do with it, “Dad, the Lazy River is boring” is their claim. You see, they prefer something a little more daring and death-defying, they are like magnets to the giant-sized water slides. These terrifying towers of terror seem to touch the sky and never end. But there’s one in particular, we’ll call it the “red slide.” This has somehow become the slide my daughters’ beg me to suffer through on every trip. Allow me to explain, this not some quaint little contraption. It’s as tall as a skyscraper (I think) and it’s completely enclosed. Therefore, the duration of the trip down it is traveled in complete darkness. It gets worse. It’s difficult to breath inside of it. I mean why wouldn’t it be? There are hundreds of bodies careening through it in triple digit heat everyday, so why wouldn’t the smell knock you out or at the very least take your breath away.
So, being the good dad I strive to be, I agreed to the temporary torture. As Clara and I began to climb the seemingly endless (and quite crowded) stairway to the top, I noticed a sign and was disturbed by what it read. To my surprise, there was a weight limit posted and as a relatively (tall) guy, I was immediately prompted to ask Clara her weight. After her reply, I began doing the math in my head. The numbers were not adding up. Actually, they did. That was the problem, we were over the weight limit. Great! As if what we were about to do wasn’t scary enough, now we were about to slide against the rules. I had a decision to make at this point, but I was already committed. We were going for it. So with a slightly underinflated raft and a prayer, we were off! As we flew through the claustrophobic tunnel of terror, fear began to overcome me. The realization there was a weight limit for a reason, my mind began racing at all that could go wrong. It dawned on me there was an excellent chance as we shot out the bottom of this makeshift water canon, I could crush my daughter, and take out innocent pedestrians who purposely chose the safety of the Lazy River all at the same time! But even worse, I was just as worried about what other people would think when I messed this whole thing up.
While, I’m happy to report no one was injured in the event, I was reminded of a valuable lesson with regard to fear of failure.
Within each of us lie our own unique hopes, dreams, and aspirations. But we allow the fear of failure to hold us back and keep us down. We worry what could happen if it all goes wrong, what others will think. So, we opt for a life lived on the Lazy River: simple, predictable, and safe. It’s less judgmental there. The only standard is, “easy.”
But what if God is calling you to the “Red Slide,” to something bigger and riskier? What if it means prayerfully, “going for it?”
“According to your faith let it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29 (NRSV)
For so many of us, we’ve allowed fear to render our dreams dormant. We’ve stopped giving ourselves permission to pursue our God-given dreams and passions. But as believers in Christ, we know this is not the life God has called us to live. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self discipline.” (NLT)
So, will you continue to allow fear of failure to dictate your life or forbid fear of failure to be your focus?