Legend has it that at the edges of medieval maps, marking the boundaries of the world the maps’ creators knew at the time, there’d be inscribed the words “Here be dragons”—often alongside vivid illustrations of the terrifying beasts supposedly lurking there.
There’s not much evidence medieval cartographers actually wrote these words, but I like to think they could have. Maybe because “here be dragons” sounds like something I might’ve written at the time—a grim warning that even if I didn’t know exactly what would happen if I ventured into the great unknown, it likely wouldn’t be good!
But there’s one glaring problem with my preferred policy of self-protection and risk-aversion: it’s the opposite of the courage to which I’m called as a believer in Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7).
One might even say I’m misguided about what’s really dangerous. As Paul explained, in a broken world bravely following Christ will sometimes be painful (v. 8). But as those brought from death to life and entrusted with the Spirit’s life flowing in and through us (vv. 9–10,14), how could we not?
When God gives us a gift this staggering, to fearfully shrink back would be the real tragedy—far worse than anything we might face when we follow Christ’s leading into uncharted territory (vv. 6–8, 12). He can be trusted with our hearts and our future (v. 12).
For further study, read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy gives us a chance to reflect on the last recorded words of a battle-scarred apostle. Abandoned by fellow believers in Jesus and imprisoned in Rome (2 Timothy 1:15–18), Paul urges a young man he loved like a son (v. 2) to remain strong in the face of looming opposition and hardship (v. 8). In the process, he reminds Timothy of the commissioning ceremony by which he and other church leaders (v. 6; 1 Timothy 4:14) had recognized Timothy’s readiness to join them in leading others and suffering for the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8–14).