Eugene Cho

do not be afraid: dream, pursue, and jump

We are people with the gift of hope and the capacity to dream. The minute we stop dreaming is the moment we begin the process of death. So share your answer to this question:

What is one of your dreams you want to pursue in your life?

I’m 38.  Married over 12 years.  3 children.  Planted two churches. Currently pastoring my dream church.  Love the cafe and music venue.  I’ve taken plenty of “risks” in my life but “the fear” never gets old.  I feel like I constantly wrestle with ‘fear.’  In fact, I think this thing called “the fear” is actually growing in my life. It’s getting worse.

Maybe, it’s because I feel like I have so much more to lose.  When I was single and roaming around the country all alone in my VW Bug or Toyota Camry, taking risks was really no big deal.  But now, I’ve got stuff, mortgages, car payments, kids, a wife, a staff, a $5000 espresso machine, responsibilities, hair products to carry, etc.

My temptation is to settle, be comfortable, enjoy my blessings, grow old, and talk about the things I’ve done to make myself feel good and then die a pleasant death.  The problem is that God isn’t done with any of us yet.  He’s certainly not done with Minhee and I.  God is again reminding me to resist a life of complacency but to be faithful to Him.  Even while I enjoy my life in Seattle, I don’t want to live a settled live.

What am I afraid of? It changes but it’s usually one of these suckers: failure, success, criticism, pain, struggles, hard work, sacrifice, uncertainty, trust over my family, and the list goes on…

How about you? What are you afraid of? What prevents you from pursuing your dreams and convictions?

I read somewhere that there are 366 instances of the variations of “Do not be afraid…” or “Do not fear”  in the Scriptures.  Here are some of my favorites:

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

And this story from John 6:16-19 still deeply challenges me:

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

If you are the praying type, please remember me in your prayers:  Pray for courage and faith.  I want to keep dreaming, pursuing…I want to jump.

[pics from South Africa by Dave S.]

Filed under: bible, faith, seattle

30 Responses

  1. Rosalind Sciammas says:

    You have such a gift for leadership through self disclosure.

    My fears: public humiliation, failure, alienating others because of my ignorance/arrogance, giving up control, marriage, intimacy and child bearing.

    My dreams: (1) to feel JOY day in and day out; (2) to offer/receive unconditional love; (3) the courage and peace necessary to get past these fears and create a new list

    His prayers for the fearful:

    John 14:27
    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

    Philippians 4:6-7
    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Amen

  2. Christina says:

    I wanted to speak to the possibility that a settled life could be where God wants you (not necessarily, but possibly). There are a number of people in the church that I serve who have been faithful to God in one place for their whole life, who have lead lives which seem to the outside to be very small, but have had deep and lasting impact.

    I think sometimes my deepest fear is that God _wants_ me to live a “small” life — to not be known and admired but to serve in anonymity, in my neighborhood, in my small family church, until I die. I’m scared of that because I have a desire to be big.

  3. teresa says:

    My biggest fear is that my life will be spent doing tasks and projects (even ones which may be done with good reason and possible impact), and miss out on showing the people God places in my path and my life how much both He and I love them. That in trying to do too many “things” (being task/goal oriented), I will miss the possibility of knowing and loving God and people better (being relationship oriented).

  4. mattbusby says:

    This is such a great post for me right now! Eugene, I don’t know if you had a chance to read it, but last week I emailed you about this very topic!
    My dream is similar to Q Cafe, I want to start a non-profit coffee shop (or non-loss in the words of Muhammad Yunnus). I plan on taking the first steps toward that dream this summer when I write the business plan and apply for non-profit status. I’ve had this dream for awhile and your story and that of Q Cafe have been a huge inspiration over the past couple of years! Thanks!

  5. michael says:

    like this, thank you for sharing. reminds me of what hirsch says in “forgotten ways”…”equilibrium is death”. when we are safe, take no risks then we may have the delusion of peace…but perhaps we are just dying a silent death…

    the most exciting times in my life have been the times when it was a step into the unknown, something risky…a time when God absolutely had to show up or i was in trouble…

  6. dan says:

    Like Christina, I am wondering if being in one place for a while is possibility for you? I would have thought not moving for a while would be the very thing that stretches you/makes you the most fearful (you have never seemed like the settling type). I am sure that there are those that need to be somewhat nomadic in their following of God, but there are some really amazing things that happen when you are able to be in a community for a longer period of time. If it makes you feel better, I will cause a ruckus every couple of months and you will know you have at least one more person to reach…

  7. dan says:

    Oh, and I am afraid of spiders.

  8. Sue says:

    One of my dreams I keep pushing off is sharing my writings. I keep a journal but I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a long time. For now, I’ll blog vicariously through others.

  9. Tyler says:

    Wow Eugene, you can definitely get up. Dunk contest?

  10. davehan says:

    Yes. You can jump! @.@

  11. Pam says:

    My dream is to attend seminary. That has been a call on my heart for many years.

  12. Nourisha says:

    my dream is help people tell their stories in a way that is authentic and true to them with a production and publication company. my fear is that i’ll never get married despite my best efforts to stay encouraged and focused on God’s promise that He’ll grant the desires of my heart when i delight myself in Him.

  13. steve s says:

    tell me those photos aren’t doctored…

  14. lauren e says:

    my dream is to be God’s hands. to do work that helps others and ultimately honors Him. i dream to be a steady counsel, loving, true and godly wife for my husband. a constant and honest parent to my step-daughter and someday to another child. i fear what i cannot control. i fear what i know i should trust. that God’s will will be done– even if it doesn’t look/happen in the way i think it should. i fear time. but i believe with intensity the power of Jesus Christ and His enduring message of hope, love, and reconciliation.

    thank you for this post eugene. it’s encouraging to know that you are not alone in fear and in hopes and dreams and this human experience.

  15. Kacie says:

    Oh man, my biggest fear is that things will never change. That I am stuck in a desk job that I don’t care about, paying the bills and stuck in the rat race of the Western world.

    I read Don’t Waste Your Life by Piper and it was challenging but I’m not sure if it was actually helpful, because at this point in life I’m called to wait and be content, and those two things are very hard for me when I’m afraid that I’ll get stuck.

    I actually wrote about it last week on my blog:

  16. eugenecho says:

    great comments. thx for sharing everyone.

    @teresa: very cool.

    @mattbusby: yes, i got that email and i’ll get back to you soon.

    @dan: asides from spiders, my biggest fear is launching the poverty org.

    @steve: photos aren’t doctored but you’d be amazed how athletic one can look when you do the scissor jump.

  17. rachatsea says:

    I am currently thisclose (67 days) away from having a decade-old dream come true. I am moving out of the U.S. and will spend an indefinable amount of time traveling, exploring other countries, and teaching ESL. I have absolutely no clue when I will return for good and I couldn’t be happier about having such an open-ended life. But: I am afraid that not enough will change. That, by God’s call, if I give away or sell 85% of my belongings and say goodbye to Seattle and my family and my community at Quest and move to several different countries (Ireland, Turkey, Poland, Chile…), will I have the strength to continue on and be challenged and allow God to really shake up my life in the ways that I think He wants to? Am I really going to be able to be single forever, as I think I am being called towards?

    The things that I want are so close, but require everything to change. I am ecstatic and scared and happy and blissed-out and blessed beyond realization, but have no idea what my life will look come August — or, particularly December.

    I chase after change. Change is not something I have a problem with. But: there is no such thing has a 5-year plan, or a family plan when you have no idea what is next. Or, what is more true is that I’m afraid that if I come back “early” or “too soon” my life will become too comfortable and I’ll feel like I failed my calling in some way.

    Where is the balance of following God’s plan and obtaining some level of normalcy? Of some level of peace? Of finding a home when the idea of home is stretched over continents?

    What do you do when you feel like you have to/want to/should/are being called to leave a nearly perfect life?

  18. Hannah K says:

    Part of the reason fear plagues adults, I think, is the ever-present gravitational pull back to reality. You’re no longer a “naive” child who can wholeheartedly trust that God will catch you at the bottom of a “mountain” just b/c He says He will. You’re just too “smart” for that.

    Related to our constant fear is complacency too, I think. There are times when God nudges you to trust Him wholeheartedly, and you eventually do (after much prodding and letting go). You feel victorious and are relieved that God’s had your back all along. Then all of a sudden, you realize you’ve been too comfortable for a while as you find yourself in yet another situation where you have to trust in God. (The first verse of the song, “Just the Time/Oh, I Want to Know You More” comes to mind).

    Having complete faith in God and letting go of your fears is really like learning to ride a bike all over again each time. But once you get on that bike and start pedaling, it’s a pretty cool ride.

  19. aaron says:

    This is really a thought provoking question, I guess usually I spend time trying to avoid thinking about my fears than recognizing what they are and how they affect me.

    Fears: rejection, losing control, that God’s plan for me is not good, missing adventure/excitement/opportunity in life, struggling financially

    Pic #3, AMAZING!

  20. Those things scare me too

  21. iy. says:

    the photos are so fun! at first i thought you only had the first one, and i was like, “um, why’d he post that? not very impressive …” (i’m a judger), but then i scrolled down. i like the last one! perfect foot placement.

  22. Andy M says:

    Ultimately, I think my life, dreams, and fears are all a big paradox.

    I’m anti-institutional but want good organization and order.

    I want to simplify my life, while broadening my life to include so many wonderful things.

    I want to be passionately connected to my family and close friends, but I want to live all around the world and have family and friends everywhere.

    I am uncomfortable meeting people I don’t know, and often uncomfortable with the people that I do (frustrations with the culture we live in).

    I understand my ultimate purpose and direction in my life, but I don’t have a clue what to do or where to go.

    I love reading paradox, but it is alittle more difficult to live in it.

  23. Hey Andy M I really share some of your feelings. Mine are somewhat incomplete. Some are dreams, others are ideas. And as Andy M said, it can be hard to know what to do next. I would take steps if I knew what those were, and if I had a support system that believed in my vision and offered guidance.

    For dreams- I want to learn another language with my wife so we can someday- 10- 15 years in the future or later, move away from the US for good to a place that speaks the language. To spend those years of my life in a different, simpler environment, away from this culture’s noise and away from a city. To SLOW DOWN for good. To be made uncomfortable by a different place with new opinions, challenges and priorities. To immerse myself along with my wife and family in a smaller, more personal culture, and get closer to people in this place.

    In the meantime, I dream of being the custodial parent for my daughter, maybe writing a book, dream of writing more anything, dream of speaking publically, dream of having a show on PBS- charlie rose style- with intimate, lasting televised conversation about faith and culture. I dream of getting my hands dirty for some organization doing good in different parts of the world.

    My fears are mostly about me. If I ever had success in the popular American sense, what would that do to ego, authenticity, my relationship with God? Would I rely on Jesus as much as I do now? Would I listen to my wife as closely and still care for her passions or would I just fake it? Would my daughter’s joy for life still bring me to tears so easily or would I become a more dutiful, detached parent? As an opinionated guy, would I just become another loudmouth? Would I annoint my actions as “God’s mission” and insulate myself from accountability? Would I become too earnest and forget how to have fun, or take myself too seriously? These are not things worth giving up over, but they are still fears, rational or not.

  24. eugenecho says:

    @ian: we need to get you paired up with couple other folks to help host or lead a community group in magnolia.

    thanks for being patient w/ the church community…

  25. Jon says:

    My greatest fear is living an insignificant life of normalcy, and going to the dentist.
    Dreams? I dream of touching people’s lives–even just a few–profoundly and being able to follow Jesus faithfully (it’s a big ask, I know).

  26. abi says:

    I am dreaming about how to start a worship service for 20 Somethings in our community, and who to involve.

  27. brian says:

    Dreaming about my impending unemployment and all of the unknown potential that comes with it, all made slightly easier knowing God is never far away.

  28. Stephanie says: and MosaicGrl at Twitter

    Hi Eugene, I’ve been following you on Twitter and enjoying your posts. Have you read the book “The Dream Giver”? It’s excellent and I highly recommend it. What I dream about right now is exciting and scary… I’m on a 90-day journey to raise my financial support so that I can work at Mosaic, my multi-ethnic and economically diverse church in Little Rock, AR. I lost my full-time job in March, and had enough to live on for 90 days! I have 53 days left, and I dream of him getting the credit for something only he can do. I dream of living out the rest of this journey with no fear but full faith.

  29. eugenecho says:

    @stephanie: no, not yet. i’ll check it out. blessings to you.

  30. […] week, I shared a post about fear entitled, Do Not Be Afraid: Dream, Pursue, & Jump.  And one of my readers, Matt S., doctored one of my photos to give me Neo-like […]

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One Day’s Wages

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41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was six years old; the youngest of three sons. My father, when he was also six, fled from what is now known as North Korea. Just recently, he shared with me that he and some of his family had been in a refugee camp when war and violence broke out on the Korean peninsula. It's emotional thinking about what my brothers and I went through coming to a completely foreign country. It wasn't easy. And then, I think about what my parents had to go through:

They fled their homes near Pyongyang which also meant leaving some of their extended families.

They experienced unfathomable hunger and poverty.

They experienced the pain of war.

They immigrated again to the United States as adults with minimal resources and a handful of English words.

All in hopes that their children would have the opportunities that were never afforded to them.

I'm thinking of my brothers today. I'm thinking of my parents and honoring them for their sacrifice and tenacity. And finally, I'm thinking of refugees and immigrants all around the world that are yearning for family, peace, hope, and opportunities. Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Confront evil. Be a truth-teller. Seek justice. Love mercy. Pursue reconciliation. Build bridges. Love your neighbors. Forgive your enemies. Pray unceasingly. Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.

The God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today.

Be brave. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the full context of his famous quote: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." An important word for the Church... Oh, how God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this so clear. No one - let alone, the leader of a country - should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment.

To the beautiful people of Haiti, El Salvador, and of the many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.

I've had the privilege of being in Haiti twice and numerous countries in Africa including Kenya where I took this picture during an afternoon drive near Kijabe. In many of these visits, I witnessed such creativity, courage, leadership, hospitality and kindness. To follow Jesus without obedience, repentance, self-denial, and dying to self is an oxymoron. In other words, are we more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus?

Grateful for an incredible Sunday at @seattlequest of beginning our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

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