Climbing up behind Christ
Fear or courage are interesting emotions, especially when we are climbing up behind Christ on His stallion. Simplistically, fear first occurs in an area of the brain called the amygdala. This is an important lifesaving brain part. Your amygdala sometimes moves you to escape even before you are aware there is a life-threatening problem. Certain of your sense organs (eyes, ears, tongue, skin and nose) constantly send signals to your brain. Your senses (what you see, hear, taste, feel and smell) filter into your brain, including through your amygdala, which evaluates those signals and decides if you are in danger. If the amygdala senses a threat it will communicate with your whole including with the motor area in your brain to take the necessary steps to prevent your injury. You need this protection. At this point you do not need courage, therefore you do not have a fear and courage conflict. You do need to protect yourself. The fear or courage problem surfaces when reality warrants the fear reaction and yet for your personal reasons you seek to ignore your fear, such as saving someone out of a burning building.
I believe many of our fears are inappropriate reactions to conditions we misinterpret, like the years when I was a boy and through the years since. The earlier years when I was small, my fears were mainly physical in nature, that is, fears of pain. In the later years of my youth, my fears were chiefly emotional, fears of lack of respect or rejection from the group. Even in later years I find myself experiencing the same fears I did in my youth.
I’ve heard people say a certain person must be brave or courageous, meaning they must never be afraid, but I believe without fear there is no courage. So life is not just fear ‘or’ courage, it is both fear “and” courage. I believe that courage and bravery are the forces driving action despite fear. Therefore I believe that stepping out into more threatening adventures with Christ needs courage to start us moving towards our fear, despite our fear.
So where does courage and bravery come from? I believe they come from a love, concern, and commitment to something or someone beyond us, especially a loved one or a greater purpose. I believe courage and bravery for Christ comes from an intimate friendship with Christ, not just knowing a lot about Him. The challenge for us all rests in how we develop an intimacy with Christ, which we will address in the next post in the Carousel Series.