Though many of us have experience with "entertainment" that did nothing but scare us, where fear is really a problem is when it keeps you from doing what should be done. Since I am not you, I won't try to assess what your fears are keeping you from doing; that's something that only you and/or someone who knows you better than anyone else, such as a parent or spouse, would know. Still, I realize now that I have been making up excuses for why I shouldn't do things, when the real reason was that I didn't want to. Here are some examples:
|What Whoever Wanted Me to Do||The Excuse I Gave for Not Doing It||The Real Reason Why I Declined|
|Go to a convention about four hours away with a teacher and some fellow students||"That's a week after a youth retreat my church is doing, and I'll just be too tired."||I simply wasn't interested.|
|Apply for a job working at a call center||"Both one of my friends and one of my aunts used to work at such a place, and they told me they got 'cussed out' on a daily basis."||I didn't want a job anywhere except for the library.|
|Try selling my wares at a flea market||"If I do that, I'm going to get taken advantage of and robbed!"||I just didn't want to bother with it; trading in items to stores in my area was easier.|
|Meal preparation that involves touching raw meat||"Back in 2004, when my mom asked me to do that, I was providentially hindered by a phone call from a friend I hadn't talked to in months! If God stopped me from doing it, it must not be what I should be doing!"||It disgusted me, and I just wanted no part of it.|
There is actually a Bible verse that says something about such situations: "The lazy person claims, 'There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!'" (Proverbs 22:13, NLT) Yes, you read that right: the lazy person, not the fearful person, or the smart person. Though we all can be lazy at times--which is actually a good thing, since all of us need our sleep--being a couch potato or even a mouse potato is not a good thing.
If you're a Christian, or even if you've attended church for a while, you no doubt have heard of shut-ins; that is, people who can't leave their house at all--or, at least, without lots of assistance--even just to go to church services to the supermarket. Last week, I was thinking about that term, and I was wondering if I was a shut-in; after all, I don't drive, and, unless I can walk to it, I usually have to hitch a ride to wherever I want or need to go, usually from one or both of my parents. I asked my mom about it, and she said that my ability to walk places and take the bus prevented me from being one. Now that I think about it, I realize that I was thinking that way because, even though I'm not technically a shut-in, I somewhat live like one. Lately, I haven't been walking places like I used to, and I definitely haven't been using my city's bus system like I should. Instead, in many cases, if I can't "get a lift" to and from where I want to go, I just wait, and end up sitting at home reading a book or watching television instead. I'm not going to lie: That is laziness on my part.
It goes even beyond that, though; in fact, what I'm about to say might surprise you, though it's likely something that you've known all along. In 2003, a well-meaning teacher told me of a friend whose son was thought to have the same condition I have, and he--that is, the son himself--believed that driving was not an option for him, if only because of the concentration required. Up to that point, I had only thought of having a driver's license and car as how it would benefit me, instead of what would be required of me to actually get it. From that point on, I fought against almost all of my friends and family members, who entirely disagreed with me when I said the same thing that other kid said. I even went as far as intentionally failing my learner's permit test the first time I took it, and lying about it to cover it up! When I actually did get the permit, I took four lessons with a friend, only to use his requirement of me washing my mom's car--which we were using for the lessons--as an out; I claimed that the mistakes I made during the final lesson were so stupid, it was like walking into the fourth week of a high school class and not even knowing the teacher's name. Some time later, another friend gave me some lessons, but they were stopped by him getting injured while refereeing a football game...or, at least, that's what I always said. When I stopped and thought about it recently, I realized that we did a lesson when he was still recovering from his injury, so that must not have been it. Even if it wasn't, he recovered from that injury years ago, yet we haven't had any lessons since then...so, it must have been something on my part. When my learner's permit expired, my dad wanted me to get my permit again, and I absolutely refused, only wanting to get a non-driver's ID. However, the biggest kicker is that, later on, that same teacher who told me about her friend's son mentioned that said kid was actually driving...yet, I was still insistent that being behind the wheel of a car was not for me. It was an accident waiting to happen; it was far too big of a risk; if I gave in to my friends and family, the end result would make them wish they never "encouraged" me. Now, I see it for what it really was: laziness. Instead of working hard at something that would change my life, I'd rather sit around and watch Disney Channel. Does that not sound like a sluggard to you?
I do want to make a few things clear. First off: Though I'm not going to let my lazy attitude keep me from what needs to be done, I will still be mindful of my premonitions. Some Christians argue that, after the last part of the Bible was written, God quit talking to anyone, even His followers, outside of the Word. I don't believe that; I think there are things that a sort of inner voice--which has to be God--has told me that I wouldn't have known otherwise. For example: One Friday in 2011, I was at the library volunteering, when I saw the courier--that is, the guy who transports items from one library to another--bring in a box of inter-library loans. I didn't open, touch, or even go near it, but I knew that one of the items I had requested was in there...and it was. The same thing happened all the way back in 2001, when, as "navigator" for a youth retreat four hours away, I told the driver to turn somewhere, even though I hadn't seen the street sign long enough to read it, because something told me that was the right street...and it was. God had to be behind that; frankly, I'd like to see some atheist try to use psychology or science to come up with some other reason, because I know they'd only fail miserably. If God tells me something, even if it's not in the Bible, why shouldn't I listen?
Second off: Refusing to succumb to my "fears"--aka my laziness--does not mean that I'll be doing all the activities I've been avoiding for years. Most of you probably know that I don't like theme parks, sports, scary entertainment, or anything to do with large bodies of water. That isn't a fear; it isn't a conviction; it's just that I can't stand them. You all can take part in them to your heart's content; I won't stop you. I just don't want to take part in them myself, though I'm glad that those of you who can do so, if all that makes you happy.
Third off: This isn't going to be an immediate change. I once read a quotation on Plugged In's Culture Clips where it talked about the "time" it takes to do something in a movie or on television versus in real life. Sitcom characters often solve problems within half-an-hour; the crews on home improvement shows transform a room or even a whole house in an hour; movie characters go from jerks to kind individuals--or vice versa--within the space of two hours. Of course, the actual chronology is usually longer than that, and who wants to watch an episode that's forty-eight hours long? Still, it doesn't change the fact that--in some people, at least--it causes a desire for instant gratification. The quick speeds of technology only makes the problem worse; on my first computer--a Commodore 64--it took at least a minute or two to load any sort of application. Nowadays, that's a minute or two too long; people, especially of my generation, want it here and now. All that has made many folks--including myself--impatient with pretty much anything, even change in ourselves. If it doesn't happen immediately, it's just not going to. What some people don't realize is that all the technology in the world can't make changes in lifestyles, habits, or personalities any quicker; they take time, and not just two hours like in the movies. If I'm going to try new things--driving, using mass transit, etc.--I have to work my way up.
In conclusion, let me say this: On the way home from my second failed attempt--this one not on purpose--to get my learner's permit, I tried to explain to my brother-in-law why driving wasn't an option. I say "tried" because I ended up stammering a lot, I spent much of the time saying essentially nothing, and what I did say was immediately refuted by him. When I told him that me driving was just too big of a risk--especially in the wake of my sister's death just a month or two prior--he told me an age-old saying: "Those who never took a risk never got anywhere." You also might have heard similar sayings, such as, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," and "No guts, no glory." Those are all true; now, it's time that I started applying them to my life. Fear that's rooted in laziness is not of God; in fact, 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." Maybe the "lion in the road" Solomon's sluggard talked about was actually Satan; with the Lion of Judah on my side, though, I have no reason to be afraid.