Long, long ago, world maps were incomplete. This was a real problem for people who were traveling long distances. Many were not willing to face the uncertainty. But, a few adventurous souls would throw caution to the wind and set out into the unknown. When they failed to return home, friends and loved ones could only guess their fate, fabricating awful and spurious stories. To warn future travelers of the dangers, they highlighted the unknown territories with dangerous creatures, like dragons. In some ways, this practice still lives within us.
Think of your most significant opportunity. Maybe you have been asked to speak publicly. Perhaps it’s confronting a negative situation at work. Hastily, you say, “yes, I am going to accept that challenge.” As time passes, however, your commitment wanes. You consider all the negative possibilities, and fear shows up. Left unchecked, fear builds to the point of capitulation. We call in sick for the public speaking event and avoid our negative work situation. Both are horrible endings. Why? Because God created us for more. To become who we are created to be, we must live by faith.
The church in Hebrews had a similar problem. They lost their confidence and replaced their hope with fear. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging them to endure. “Just a little longer; trust me, everything will turn out well.” (v23)
Don’t you know that medieval sailors had similar situations? Knowing that a shorter trade route was possible, they set sail. Upon entering the unknown, they experienced storm after storm. Their fear builds until they are faced with a choice. Continue, or quit.
The truth is that we all have these opportunities. It is our choice whether we advance with faith in God’s promises or retreat. Hebrews 10:33 calls it “shrinking back.” The result of shrinking back is destruction. That’s the same as death.
Responding through faith, however, we are able to press on. Not just once but every day. With faith, we travel into the unknown with full assurance of what we hope for and the things that we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).