Send your bread on the surface of the waters,
for after many days you may find it.
Give a portion to seven or even to eight,
for you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2In just the past few days I have had to endure two very different, yet very fearful circumstances. It has caused me to think about fear and my reaction to it. I have come to the conclusion, my recent and totally opposite reactions to fearful situations was closely related to the information I knew about my situations.
My first potentially dangerous situation was the one with a bear story. All I knew for certain was that there was a bear just feet away from me and my family...the only thing separating us was a tent wall. I could hear the bear tossing around our cooler, but could not see anything else. I knew very little, but what I did know terrified me. Why? Because I knew what that bear could do to me...or worse, my family.
I needed to act, but I hesitated out of fear of the unknown.
That was midnight Saturday into Sunday. Monday afternoon rolls around and I find myself in another situation that put the boys and I in danger. As we pull into the garage, Tim states from the back seat that he thinks he sees water on the garage floor. I hadn't noticed anything pulling in, probably due to my sunglasses and change from sunlight to darkness as I drove inside the garage. I replied to Tim that it would be just our luck to have a water leak somewhere.
As I opened my door, fumes instantly filled my nostrils. There was liquid on the floor...not water, but gasoline. And, from the intense fumes, it was more than just a little.
In a second's time I had to make a decision on what to do.
Leave the car with its hot engine in the garage with gas under it or start the car again in the garage with gasoline under it in order to move it away from the gas and fumes that had been building up for who knows how long.
Neither choice was really a great one. Both potentially explosive. Both had me fearful of the results.
I gave acknowledgement to the fact that starting the car again was very risky, but went with that choice over the other of leaving a hot engine inside the garage filled with fumes and an unknown amount of gasoline on the floor.
What I knew for sure: gasoline is explosive in nature, it doesn't take much to bring out the explosive side in gasoline, and we were in danger.
I had to act on what I knew and I did.
What I did not know was the actual seriousness of the gasoline spill (which was a leak from the VW Bug we own and park in the garage).
Some people believe that the very act of the garage door going up not igniting the gasoline is a miracle. Next, they cannot believe that pulling the car inside did not blow us into tomorrow.
By the time people hear that I restarted the car inside the gasoline filled garage, their jaws have dropped and they are speechless at the fact that the boys and I are still here.
I knew it was dangerous, but I didn't know it was that dangerous.
I am thankful that I didn't know then what I know now.
With the bear, fear had me frozen.
With the gasoline, fear had me act.
My reactions were so different...why?
It is a matter of perspective.
The unknown was worse than the known with the bear outside of the tent. I was afraid of all of the "What if's..." I did not know how the bear would react if I made noise. What if I did something and he attacked? I would be the one responsible.
The known was worse than the unknown with the gasoline filled garage. I knew what could happen if the car remained in the garage and it seemed a greater risk than the unknown of what might happen if I started the car and moved it out of the way. If I didn't move the car and the house exploded, then I'd be responsible. I didn't know at the time, two miracles of sorts had already occurred.
Ultimately, nothing was in my control outside of my own actions in either situation. Even then, a bigger and greater God knew how I would react in both situations. I firmly believe He had His hand of protection of us the entire time in the woods and in the garage. He gave the notion to do what needed to be done to the person in each situation whom needed to do it. He heard my prayers for wisdom and answered by giving wisdom to the one who needed it at the moment and courage to act on it.
And, I thank Him for it! Over. and. over. again!