When you know your next breath will kill you, breathing ain’t much fun anymore…

Several years ago, Leslie and I were treated to a Caribbean vacation of a lifetime.  After a couple days of relaxing on the beach, I began looking for an adventure and asked a local man for ideas.  He gave me a great big, Island smile and said: “You will go fishing with us tomorrow.”  A first I was excited, then I realized this wouldn’t be a tourist boat, and these men probably have a different idea of what a day of fishing looks like.

The next morning all my fears were confirmed. I arrived at the beach and was introduced to three very fit men preparing a small wooden boat with a huge motor.  There was no conversation. Everyone knew what needed to be done. These men weren’t getting ready to go fishing, they were preparing for battle.

Within 15 minutes, we were leaving the beach encountering our first obstacle… getting past the surf.  We hit the waves full throttle – like a jump – and headed out.   I figured we would just fish the reef but “no” we were headed out to sea.  Then I noticed there were no fishing rods… we were going spearfishing, which requires diving without scuba gear to where the fish are to shoot them!  I’m thinking, “You’re in over your head Todd Pierce!”  After another 10 minutes, I was certain of it.  I’m going to get eaten.

Miles offshore, we arrived at a reef that was a favorite hunting spot for these locals. They set an anchor (a chunk of metal from an old engine), grabbed their spears, jumped in the water and they were gone.  After figuring out how to use the spear gun, I decided to just go for it.  Once in the water I realized the reef was fairly shallow, so I quickly gained confidence and began the hunt.  After about an hour, I saw that the boat was coming to get me. As they pulled me into the boat, along with the 3 small fish I had killed, I immediately noticed the bin that was half full of beautiful, large fish. These guys were amazing!

I assumed the hunt was over at that point, but after a short ride, we anchored again.  I thought “great!  I’m already exhausted and humbled and here we go again.”  Same routine, only this time the reef was 30-50 feet deep.  After a few attempts to get to the reef, I realized I could get there easy enough, but didn’t have a lot of time to look around before I needed to resurface.  But, I also realized there were some great fish down there.  Each time I went deeper until finally, I got the shot I had been waiting for only to see the spear only partially penetrate. Not wanting to lose the fish, I swam down to thrust the spear through only to discover I now had a 20lb fish in tow and had already stayed down too long.

Now, I was concerned.  I dropped the spear and the fish and shot toward the surface.  The next twenty seconds seemed like an eternity as my body insisted on inhaling.  I couldn’t stop it.  I told myself if you breathe you will drown.  Then it happened, even though there was no air to breathe, I inhaled.  Water filled my lungs just as I surfaced – coughing and puking I was eventually able to clear my lungs.  I looked around but there was no one there to help.  At that moment, I realized I just about died. After a little rest I was able to swim back down to retrieve my spear and prize.

So what’s the point?

Although I don’t recommend drowning, I do recommend testing your limits.  Not necessarily your physical limits, but realizing that fear limits our potential in every area of life.

Jesus said that perfect love casts out all fear.  Those are only words until you give yourself to the Truth of God’s overwhelming love for you and live with risk.

2018 is filled with amazing opportunities for each of us – if we refuse to allow fear to stop us.  Trying not to be afraid won’t work.  Make the conscious choice to love.   Love God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself!

Your life will be ruled by fear or love.  YOU CHOOSE!

With all my heart, Todd