Saturday, March 08, 2008

LAUGH MORE, LOVE MORE, AND DON'T BE SO AFRAID


If you want to see an uplifting movie that will both inspire and challenge you to consider the way you’re living your life, try Last Holiday. No, this is not a movie review; however, there are some great thoughts to take from this lighthearted romantic comedy.

This film is about a sweet but mousy department store clerk, Georgia Byrd, who lives frugally, dutifully and uneventfully, her many dreams alive only in her “possibilities book”, a scrapbook filled with photos of foods she’d like to prepare in the restaurant she dreams of owning, places she longs to visit, and the man she wants to marry. All that changes when a CT-scan reveals lesions in her brain and her doctors reveal that she has only three weeks left to live. Georgia cashes in her entire life savings, then flies out for a whirlwind vacation to her dream destination, a luxury spa hotel in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Of course, she has amazing adventures and meets intriguing people there. But as her life begins to draw to a close on New Year’s Eve, she arrives at one conclusion as she reflects on her life. Gazing at herself in the mirror in her elegant hotel suite, she says to her reflection, “Next time we’ll do things different. Next time, we’ll laugh more, love more, we’ll see the world! We just won’t be so afraid.”

These words arrested me the first time I saw the film. I had to ask myself just how much I have let fear hold me back from really living my life at the level God intended. This is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves. Most of us would not consider ourselves to be fearful, yet we have deceptively subtle forms of fear lurking just beneath the radar in our hearts and minds. Perhaps you don’t have panic attacks, for example, but maybe a nagging fear of failure prevents you from taking risks that could bring you into the fullness of God’s good and gracious plan for your life. Or maybe your particular bugaboo takes another form: fear of success, responsibility, intimacy, humiliation, flying, speaking in public, death, ad infinitum.

These and many more are part of our enemy’s arsenal of weapons and tactics to “kill, steal, and destroy”; yet we know that Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) A life that is lived fully cannot be lived timidly. It must be lived with an abandon that is not risk averse.

You may say, “But we need to live wisely and in obedience to God!”

Indeed, we do. However, in my own life, I have found that God’s wisdom is often contrary to conventional human wisdom, and that obedience requires climbing out onto a high and scary ledge more often than sticking to the safe and secure. This is because life is meant to be lived by faith, above the clamoring voices of our five senses shouting, “Be reasonable!”

Living the safe life, like the old Georgia Byrd, requires no faith, no trust in God. Obedience, however, may require us to do some crazy things, like the new Georgia Byrd in Karlovy Vary, going base jumping when the others prefer bus tours. If we always choose the secure, the expected, and the reasonable, we will get the safe, the predictable and the mundane. On the other hand, if we choose faith, we courageously put ourselves in place to receive the fullness and exhilaration of a life walked in tandem with God as He promised, and He gets the glory.

Believers everywhere are speaking of 2008 as the year of new beginnings in God. Many are transitioning into new phases of life and ministry, launching into unknown territory. It’s an exciting, but scary time for many. Add to that the troubled times in which we are living. If ever there was a time to embrace courage and to tackle and rise above fear in our lives, it is now.

The good news is that never has God been more available to us if we will call upon His help. He knows exactly what each of us needs to successfully take the next step into His plans for our lives. It’s as if He is stirring the waters again at the Pool of Bethesda and all we have to do to be healed is to dare to step into the churning waters.

If you need some help in this direction, watch Last Holiday for some inspiration and a challenge, then ask God to show you and to free you from any areas of fear that are holding you back from His best for you. Then take a walk on the wild side. You’ll be free to laugh more, love more, and not be so afraid.

By the way, Georgia doesn’t die and she gets her man in the end!

Places to See