There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18 (NIV)
Today was one of the most perfect days of my life. My friend and I took our horses on an overnight campout to our favorite place to ride, Alafia State Park. We participated in a trail ride with about fifty other horses, and last night a small group of us rode under a cloudless, moonlit sky. We came back to camp exhilarated and ready for a good long chat around the campfire. Today, with cooler and drier weather, mowed trails, good friends, and an amazing amount of butterflies and wildflowers in bloom, the day was an ideal one to be outdoors. To think, I almost missed it all because I was too afraid to go. As much as I love riding, the freedom and enjoyment that it gives, on occasion, especially after a layoff from riding due to weather, schedule or health, I start to panic about getting on my horse again. No one needs to tell me how dangerous horseback riding can be. I have been to the emergency room twice and nearly lost my life, and sometimes, without provocation, those fears build up like bile rising out of my gut. I worry, recalling previous injuries, near misses and unsafe situations. I remember when I fell off twice in the same day when my horse spooked at a rustling in the bushes. The hard crashes in the pasture trying to get him to stand still while I mounted. The freefall over his neck onto my head, the feel of cheekbone being crushed as I hit a fence, and the grasp for air as I came to my senses to find myself lying in the driveway are images as vivid today as each day that it happened. When those feelings of anxiety and terror begin to swirl inside me, I have to remember the long days of training, the trust invested in each other, the relationship we have built and the many successful and happy hours of riding we have had since. Yes, it is hazardous, but so is everything in this life. I minimize my risk by continually training, making sure my equipment is maintained, choosing my riding environment carefully and making sure I always have a buddy with me. I ride because the more I ride, the better I get and the safer I will be, and I ride because I love it so. Not only does that love overcome my fear of riding, but also God’s love for me, drives out the fear of living. I can sit immobile afraid to fully love those He has given me, to allow myself to completely experience the joy He has for me, or to participate in a ministry He has called me to do. I know that He loves me and wants the best for me. He does not sit in some faraway place plotting evil against me. I can trust in Him. His Perfect love casts out all fear. Don’t be afraid. Remember His great love for you.