The other day I got to go offshore with some friends to do a bit of fishing. While out there, several in the group went scuba diving while we caught all sorts of fish and enjoyed a pristine day on the gulf.
While fishing, we would watch the various creatures below the surface with awe of the Creator that made all these wonderful aquatic species. We were having to get our bait down quickly because of the trigger fish, and we reeled in a shallow line quickly to get it away from a passing sea turtle. Slowly swimming by on occasion was also the fearsome barracuda.
I don’t know much about these fish, but what I do know is that I have a healthy respect for them. They rate only slightly lower than sharks on my intimidating fish list.
After a while I decided I’d try out some snorkeling around the platform and check out the smaller fish I couldn’t see from the surface. I dove down ten feet or so and watched in wonder at the magnificent color array found among the fish and barnacles clinging to the legs of the platform. After looking down for a bit, I decided to look ahead of me, and there it was, about 10 feet in front of me, a three foot long barracuda. Then, I looked next to it and there was its twin – swimming towards me.
Maybe you’re extremely brave or accustomed to these fish, so this encounter wouldn’t affect you. Such is not the case with me. I couldn’t yell. I couldn’t get away quick enough. I’ve seen “Finding Nemo”. I know what a fish like this did to Nemo’s mom, but I couldn’t move. Fortunately, I turned to find a route of escape, and when I turned back they were gone. I know I’m bigger than them, but there was two of them and their teeth are very large.
I was afraid – paralyzed with fear. There, I admitted it. My name is Johnathan Dobbs, and I was afraid of that fish. So afraid, by the way, that when I continued to snorkel, I was constantly looking every which way to make sure something bigger than me didn’t sneak up on me. When I got back in the boat, we discussed the relevance of the 80’s song that says, “ooooooh barracuda!”
Do you ever experience fear?
As I think about this experience, I realize I do this same thing with my friends. They aren’t going to devour me, yet I fear certain interactions with them…namely telling them about the love of Jesus.
I don’t see a whole lot of people evangelizing, but I see a lot of people who go to church regularly. Why is that? If we aren’t telling others, it’s not their fault, and it’s not God’s fault, it’s ours.
1 John 4 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…the one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
If I’m afraid to tell you about Jesus, then I’m not loving you; I’m being selfish and 1 Corinthians 13 says “love is not self-seeking”. If I really love you, then I will want the best for you with no regard to me. This “best” is Jesus – the greatest gift ever given to mankind.
So are you afraid? Will you commit with me to love, and cast out fear in Jesus’ name so that others can receive our love and the love of Christ?
May you not be afraid, and may the Spirit of God fill you with boldness to love others with no regard to self…just like Jesus did.
If there’s anything I can do or pray for you, then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.