July 3, 2020 | By Jay Ashbaucher
Many phrases are used to help us explain life. “Throwing caution to the wind” is one of them. Another is that “There are two sides to everything.” If that is true, then there must be two sides to throwing caution to the wind. I have always been a fearful and very cautious person. Maybe it stems from falling down the basement stairs while in a walker at my grandmother’s house when I was a toddler. I don’t remember it, I must have subconsciously blocked out the pain, but I can see a scar on my chin as evidence that it happened. At least it serves as one explanation I have for being an avid proponent of warning myself and others not to throw caution to the wind.
What does throwing caution to the wind mean? I take it to mean that a person needs to stop being cautious. However, if we are not cautious, we run the risk of endangering our lives. After all, the world is full of danger. We must be aware of it and be cautious so that we don’t allow those dangers to destroy our lives. That truth has become very evident in these coronavirus days of 2019-20. People all over the world are being cautious. We quarantine ourselves by staying home, frequently wash our hands, when going out we wear masks and keep safe distances from each other. We even shut down schools and workplaces where one might catch the deadly virus. The advice we were all told to practice was, “Don’t throw caution to the wind.” Don’t do anything that could bring disease and death to you or someone else. Don’t take a chance of catching the dreaded disease. This was the approach we needed for the protection of ourselves, families, friends, and all others.
As I thought about the need to be cautious, I realized that there are two sides to everything. If I am totally cautious, I become more and more fearful of what could happen. I withdraw from life and become isolated. While being cautious should not be overlooked, letting the wind blow it away may also be needed lest we lose the things that make life free and essential to our well-being. As cautious and fearful as I am, I have realized that one must also risk many of the world’s dangers so that we don’t stop living. That means we need to be courageous and defeat our fears by moving out into a world full of dangers. Being a believer in the God of the Bible, I am aware of how often he told people to “Be courageous”. Those who continue working in coronavirus days are examples of courage. Doctors, nurses, medical staff, grocery store workers, and others, are people who put their own health and lives at risk to help sustain the lives of others. The other side of caution is courage.
What helps us to be courageous and to get out from under our fears? To me, I need to have faith in a God who is with me and who is helping me to do what he wants. Doing what he wants means loving people, meeting the needs of people, and overcoming our fears so that we can enjoy life and do the good things that give our life meaning and purpose. Courage does not mean to give up being cautious, but it does mean bravely stepping out and engaging in a life that needs to be lived. We can do it by trusting a power greater than ourselves to protect and guide us. We can do it when we live by faith, hope, and love. After all, hasn’t that always been the way for us to live, especially in a dangerous world?
Therefore, I must adopt the attitude that I must be cautious, but be willing to throw caution to the wind and let the wind blow where it will. A balance between caution and courage is needed to enable us to enjoy and manage the life God has given us. Such a life becomes all about caring for others as much as we care about ourselves. If God wants us to live like that, we have no alternative but to step out, believing he is there to help us do it and to catch us if we fall. Being courageous does not mean being foolishly reckless, but wisely engaging ourselves in the winds of God’s directives, which is to love life and people. If we are stuck in fear and caution, prayer can help change our attitude. My prayer is, “Lord, help me to practice the two C’s – Caution and Courage. And let it begin today.”
We can trust the one who said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). How did Jesus overcome the world? As oddly as it seems, he did it by being willing to die to his own will and live for God’s will. How strange, and contrary to our own thinking, that the best things in life come out of death. If out of his death came forgiveness and the resurrection of a new life for all who believe, how great would it be if out of our death to self-will and being overly cautious would come a greater good to the world around us.