I hadn’t gotten a speeding ticket in 11 years. It was in a 25 mph zone on a main road and I was going 37. The officer was on foot behind a tree with his laser gun so there was no time to react. It was quite the speed trap. A week or two later I was driving by the same spot and though I felt the speed limit was a bit unrealistic for such a main road I decided to drive 25 just in case the speed trap was still there. Sure enough I see it was and two cars had been pulled over! Another road near work is 30 mph but it’s the kind of road cars easily drive 40 to 45 mph. I made the choice to keep to the posted speed limit because I felt it was a road cops could easily use to catch speeders. Sure enough, a few days later a speed trap was set up and thankfully I had been driving at the 30 mph limit.
You’ll note that I wasn’t driving the limit on both those road stretches for safety’s sake. I cautiously stuck to the limit out of fear of getting another ticket. Perhaps that’s what the police intend in setting up speed traps and handing out fines. It’s a deterrent. We all know how easily human beings react to incentives. In this case the incentive to drive at the speed limit is not getting a ticket. But this bothers me because I don’t want to drive a certain way out of fear. I want to follow the rules out of a concern for safety, something good.
How often do we live out our life in certain ways as a result of fear? Do we avoid confronting an injustice out of fear rather than a desire for positive change? Do we stay in a relationship because we fear we’ll never find someone else if we ended it? Do we follow the commands of our faith out of fear of the consequences or out of a love of God?
Sometimes it’s hard to escape fear. Sometimes it dictates our actions or inactions. It drives us into madness or just despair. It can keep us from being fully ourselves. God does not want that.
|Here’s an exercise: Make a list of five fears that drive you, that dictate certain parts of your life. It could relate to your job or your vocation or your relationships. Whatever. Make a list and then next to each fear write down what you believe God would want your motivation to be (as opposed to fear). Then pray about it.
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