Desiree and I were at Knott’s Berry Farm enjoying some father/daughter time about 20 years ago.
She spotted the parachute drop and wanted to ride it. This was a few years after I fell and crippled up my hand. I had no interest at all in being up high for any reason.
A noisy silent debate ensued in my mind.
“It is perfectly safe. Millions of people have ridden on it.”
“Yeah, right!!! It is ‘way too high up. Not happening.”
“So you want me to look like a sissy in front of my daughter? I gotta ride this thing.”
“You don’t gotta ride nuthin’ that high. Discussion over!”
“Look, I don’t have to enjoy it – just white knuckle it up and down to save face.”
“FACE? Who cares about your face when your stupid neck gets broken. DON’T DO IT.”
Similar pointless diatribe and defense continued as I got in line with Desiree and stepped into the little basket. I was wearing sun glasses, so I could close my eyes on the way up and still pretend to be a man. I got a death grip on the bar we were leaning up against as I listened to Desiree’s chatter about how fun it was while they winched us up to the top.
It was at least 400 miles up while the silent argument in my head reached a shrill intensity.
“Open your eyes, you ridiculous pansy. Your daughter is enjoying it. You are perfectly safe. Just do it already.”
As the winching process slowed, I knew we must be on the verge of the ghastly drop to infinity and beyond. At that precise point, my daughter was crowing her delight at the view and I mustered enough mojo to open my eyes for an infinitesimal fraction of a second.
The view from 400 miles up was so horrifying I almost passed out in the basket. I managed to tighten my death grip and hold my breath until the wretched invention arrived at the bottom where I staggered off the ride in rough shape while Desiree skittered on ahead, oblivious to the purgatory I had just endured.
I pondered for weeks the depth of the scar on my psyche from the two second fall from the roof that caused me to be afraid of all heights. It had been a few years already, but clearly sheer terror was on standby, ready to demonstrate its prowess if I ever decided to challenge my feelings with my will.
The impotence of will and logic when faced with the scar of past disaster also captured my attention for a long time.
Against that backdrop, I pondered God’s clear, unambiguous command to Joshua. He did it both ways. First, he forbade a couple of kinds of fear, then He commanded a couple of kinds of courage.
I did the word studies with care and came up with no escape clause. This was absolutely a command. This was absolutely to be an act of Joshua’s will to simply switch off the fear and switch on courage.
I thought back to the day that lived in infamy at Knott’s Berry Farm and was tempted to mutter, “Yeah right! Just switch off the fear. Simple. Done!”
So I circled around that conundrum. After my grousing was done, it was a given that God is not the God of futility. He does not give commands to the will that absolutely, positively cannot be executed by the will. There HAD to be a different frame to put around this hard data.
It eluded me day after day while you awaited my next blog on courage and many of you wrote me cautionary e-mails about people who lived in fear that they could not control – like I didn’t know about the dynamic.
Then this morning it all came together. God had me look at all the passages in Scripture where He gave that command. Then He drew my attention to the people and people groups He gave the command to.
In every single case, it was individuals who had a massive exposure to the immensity of God BEFORE that moment.
It all clicked. This is a message I presented in slightly different form in the PTSD album. If you have not listened to it, now is the time since this will lay the foundation for the year’s focus on courage.
It is about the brain, not the psyche. When your brain has a strong neurological highway to the emotion of the awe of God, then they CAN choose between the highway to fear and the highway to awe-based courage.
But if you have not spent enough time in the presence of God to have that huge awe-based neurological pathway, you CANNOT choose to have courage instead of fear.
So once again we are back to lifestyle. How we live our lives is going to determine our ability to choose courage.
During the next few months we will explore all the ways that God designs awe lessons that will grow our brain pathways to prepare us in advance for the challenges we will face.
I shared this with Megan and she immediately upped the ante. She said that God would probably design training that is specific to the design of the individual.
Sounds like fun!!
My mind is racing joyously, scrolling through all the courageous people in Scripture, looking for what God did to get them ready.
We will start with an easy one in the next blog and then build from there with more challenging stories.
Lifestyle. Love it. Growing the brain is an essential part of our spiritual walk.
Copyright January 2015 by Arthur Burk
From the Rockies, where I am doing a training