When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:24-26 (NIV)
In 1999, Dave Freeman co wrote a book called 100 Things to Do Before You Die. He encouraged readers to remember that life is a short journey to be explored and enjoyed. After publishing his list, Freeman set out to do everything he described. He ran with the bulls in Spain and jumped off a 100 foot tower on a Pacific Island attaching vines to his ankles to keep him from hitting the ground. He had just enough time to experience about half of the things on the list before he died last month at the age of 47. He did not die in the midst of attempting one of his dreams, but from a blow to the head when he fell in his own home. I was thinking about Freeman when I was horseback riding today at Little Manatee State Park. At one point on the trail, there is a wide, level field where we enjoy letting the horses trot. They get excited as we emerge from the trees knowing that soon, we will give the command to go faster. Riding at a trot requires me to let go of some of my fears. Almost six years ago, when I was a beginner rider, Trucker took off at a canter. Instead of controlling him and pulling him back, I got scared and forgot everything I knew. When he reached a fence and came to a screeching halt, I lost my balance and fell, breaking my cheekbone and tearing the ligaments in my shoulder. After that, it took a long time for me to get up the courage to go faster than a walk. Now, I enjoy trotting which is faster than a walk, but slower than the canter where I fell. Occasionally, I still have flashbacks and become afraid, and because I always keep Trucker tightly controlled so he cannot do more than a trot, I stay tense as we ride. However, the last two times we have ridden, at the command to go faster, he has jumped into a nice easy canter before I realize what has happened. I feel comfortable enough to allow myself to experience that rolling gait and enjoy the motion for a few moments. The pleasure I feel surprises me, and he may be shocked that I don’t immediately pull him back as well. I am getting where I enjoy cantering if only for a brief time. Dave Freeman was right, life is short. We should open up to do new things and set aside the fears that hold us back. Life should be lived to the fullest. And as one of my friends observed, “When it is your time to go, it is your time to go.” I hope I don’t “go” anytime soon, but, if I do, I’m glad I’ve had the privilege of cantering on horseback across a beautiful meadow of Florida wildflowers. God gives me the confidence to live life to the fullest. All I have to do is ask.