“Off the Map, Here be Dragons”
On old mariner maps, unexplored territory was designated by the words, “Here Be Dragons.” The fear was, if you didn’t fall off the edge of the world, you’d be gobbled up by monsters. (Imagine Geoffrey Rush saying, Here Be Dragons, in his Pirates of the Caribbean voice for the full effect).
Thanks to a few brave souls, we’ve discovered the world isn’t flat and there aren’t dragons lurking “off the map”.
But where’s your “off the map?” What are the invisible dragons that keep you from setting sail towards your dreams?
The Dragon of Fear
Fear is a ferocious, many-headed monster. Whether it’s the fear of failure (or success), the fear of what people think (or don’t think), the fear of loneliness (or intimacy), the fear of rejection (or over-exposure), the fear of the past (or future), no matter the size of your dragon’s bite, slaying your monster is crucial to exploring your horizons and fulfilling your God-given destiny. Edmund Burke said, “No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”
Of course, we’re all well acquainted with Israel’s dilemma on the banks of the River Jordan. The dragons prowling in off-the-map Canaan paralysed a generation in stage-fright in what should have been their finest hour. Cut from a different cloth, dragon-slayer Joshua had an entirely different take on the lay of the land. Having seen first-hand the size of the monsters, without a hint of denial or dread, the dragon-slayer said: “do not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread … the Lord is with us” (Numbers 14:9). Joshua didn’t see the opposition as an obstacle, but as nourishment—overcoming their obstacles would make them larger, stronger, smarter. We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.
So, how do we slay our dragons? Well, the answer is as simple as it’s profound. Face them! Look them square in the eye and roll out the worst case scenario in the context of your faith in God. Most of our fears will immediately begin to dissipate, getting smaller and less threatening as they’re exposed as shadows without substance. (Research tells us that upwards of 70% of the things we fear never happen).
Dragons that have some teeth are de-fanged when we plot-and-plan solutions to possible problems, inviting the counsel of mature others into your faith process. “Where there is no counsel the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
As one dragon-slayer explained, “Write down your doubts and fears. Examine them. Hold them up to the light. Suck the wisdom out of them and discard their husks in the trash.” There’s an ocean of wisdom in this advice for those who will heed it.
One of my all time favourite Arthur Wallis quotes rings true: “God doesn’t have to increase the amount of authority He has given us; we have to increase our appetite for victory.”
When life threatens you with: “Off the map, here be dragons.” Respond: “Bring it on. I’m hungry”.