Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah–Eikev
“Perhaps you will say in your heart, ‘These nations are more numerous than I: how will I be able to drive them out?’ Do not fear them. You shall remember what Adonai, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt”—Deut. 7:17-18.”Perhaps you will say in your heart, ‘These nations are more numerous than I: how will I be able to drive them out?’ Do not fear them. You shall remember what Adonai, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt”—Deut. 7:17-18.
Fear is devastating. Fear paralyzes us in our tracks and often keeps us from taking even the first steps toward blessings. Most failures in life happen because we never muster the courage or faith to take the first shot at attaining a goal. Many succumb to their fear after a failed attempt proclaiming that the task was too hard or too daunting to accomplish. I reconnected with a high school friend a few years back. I asked her why she never went out with me. She looked at me with a little snarky sneer and said, “You never asked me.” I remember being too afraid of rejection back then. Another friend shared that he missed out on a career opportunity of a lifetime because he was afraid to speak up at a meeting, even while he held the greatest qualifications for the promotion. We all know of these stories.
Despite the blessings that Israel experienced in its wilderness journey, it stood on the banks of the River Jordan afraid to cross over. Despite the blessings we experience every day, we stand at the precipice of challenges, afraid to face them. We possess incredible power and we live in communities with the ability to be amazingly resourceful, yet, we disengage–standing too afraid to act. What keeps us from growing relationships with people whose cultures we do not understand? Fear of the unknown. What keeps us from fully enjoying the relationships that do fill our lives? Fear of commitment. When people tell me that they are dying of a terminal disease, I remind them that they are not dying. They are living with the disease and will die when they die. In the meantime, they must get over their fear of death and appreciate that they are alive and have the opportunities to continue celebrating with the people that they love. J. R. R. Tolkein wrote, “Faithless is he who says ‘farewell’ when the road darkens.”
The Torah text reminds us that we have the power to face any challenge. We must have faith enough to stand up, remember our blessings, and take the steps necessary to figure out what to do with what we have. Faith girds us through every step of living, if we engage. Thomas Edison taught us that we never fail in work, even when we do not get the result we hoped for or desired. He argued that each “non-successful” attempt at a goal serves only as part of the process of perfecting the task.
I have a sign on my desk that says, “You will never score points from shots you never take.” The late great Muhammad Ali taught us the secret of his success, “Its lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
Ultimately, my faith teaches me that my circumstances do not dictate my well being; I make that choice, and I can always choose to run in fear, or I can choose to experience life’s blessing. Shabbat shalom.