Crossing the Red Sea: On the Courage to Face Fear

Crossing the Red Sea: On Courage and Fear

There are those moments in life when facing a challenge and a decision must be made – to stay put or to charge ahead. Thinking of such a situation, the crossing of the Red Sea story comes to mind. Imagine you are one of the Israelite who just escaped slavery in Egypt and fled to the desert. You run uninterruptedly through the sand dunes until you come across the Red Sea. You look back and you see the Egyptian army getting closer. They want to capture you and take you back to where you were – a slave. You look ahead and all you can see is water spreading from your feet to the horizon.

You have a very short time to make a decision. A voice in you says, “Step into the water, something will work out.” You can’t imagine how it can happen. You are afraid of drowning and you also don’t want to be a slave for the rest of your life. What would you do?

The crossing of the Red Sea is a great symbolic story of a situation many encounter several times in a lifetime: this moment when it’s time to move on in life, but the unknown of the next step is terrifying. Maybe your current situation is bearable - but you want more. Or maybe you can no longer stay where you are in life - you need a change, you have to do something different. In any case, stepping into the unknown, with no guaranties of success, is terrifying.

Taking a leap of faith requires courage. Courage doesn’t mean acting with no fear, but rather acting in spite of that fear. Courage means making a decision to cross the deep water of the unknown and charge ahead no matter what, because staying put is not an option anymore.

Can you remember a time in your life when you made a decision to go ahead despite the fear of the unknown? How did it work out for you? 

This post is dedicated to my courageous sister Sapir.