Overcoming Fear in Baja


Preparing for the 20-hour drive of mostly dirt road down the Baja Peninsula, ignited a place in my heart that has been somewhat dormant. It was Fear. Not like the fear of a bee or snake, but the unknown, unsafe, adventurous, anything can happen kind of fear. The thing with Baja is that there is no Triple-A, and the cops generally aren't passionate about serving and protecting ignorant gringos. 

A funny thing about human nature is that we like to share our fear with anyone willing to pick it up. When a neighbor sees me packing my surfboards, and I share my Baja plans, his first response is stoke followed by, "be careful, because I know a dude who lost both his legs in Baja."

Everyone has a trauma story, either their own or one laid before them on the interwebs that they pick up and present to you like a steamy turd wrapped as a present. I am guilty of this myself but am a recovering fear sharer. We love to pick up other peoples fear. It's like the accident on the freeway you can't look away from. Social media has become an excellent platform for observing train wrecks and gathering worries and fears from all over the world to share with friends and loved ones. Side note, getting off social media has been remarkable for my anxiety, FOMO, numbing out, and dopamine addiction. 

All that to say, I was scared of the trip before me. 

Driving through an arid desert in a developing country where Cartels influence Government, Police rob tourists, and one bad order of ceviche can ruin your day, has a way of keeping survival top of mind. But my desire was strong. I had dreamed about making this trip for the past 15 years. I had to weigh the risks, but when I asked myself, just because something unfortunate can happen, do I not go on an epic surf trip with my buddies? 

More than that, where is my hope? If my hope is in me and what I control, then staying at home is the better, safe, and cowardice choice. If I chose to control and trust my strength, then I don't need God. But when I face reality and accept that tomorrow isn't promised whether I am in Baja or Seal Beach, I know I have to put my trust in something more powerful than me. When I take control, it leads to striving, anxiety, worry, and stress. Releasing control to God leads to peace, trust, hope, and courage. Trusting God is applied to anything from getting through shady Federalizes in Baja, to a tough day in the office. There is massive freedom in releasing control, trusting a good God who is for me, and looking out for my good. If that is true about God, what do I have to fear?

I think of my kids when they were babies, totally surrendered to me as their Father. I did everything in my power to look out for their good, well being, and life. I am a mortal, flawed man. How much more does a perfect Father in Heaven look out for our good when we release control of our lives to him?

Fear is rooted in doubt, and doubt is the opposite of faith. 

Interestingly though, doubt is necessary for faith. If there wasn’t doubt, there wouldn't be faith. I heard it said that faith and doubt make beautiful dance partners.

If you were to self examine, and ask yourself how you predominately make decisions to act or not act, would you say your life as been marked by things you didn't do because of doubt & fear, or things you did do because you trusted or had faith in something bigger then yourself?

Do you want to know what the number one regret is from people on their death bed?

"I wish I would have risked more in life."

I am haunted and deeply saddened thinking about all the lives that in the end, knew they could have really lived instead of survived. 

Fear is an epidemic and not only does it ruin dreams, but it is also destroying lives because we are looking for the path of least resistance in everything. Taking the easy road has nothing exciting at the end of it. Your destiny isn't waiting for you at the end of your excuses, inactions, and fears. You are made for something extraordinary, and it is in you waiting to be birthed.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride! “

Hunter S. Thompson

The boys.jpeg

Building meaningful relationships and living adventure and freedom are two life values of mine.

Scorpion Bay is a series of point breaks about three quarters the way down the Baja Peninsula. A hurricane swell was forecasted to arrive when we did, so what better way to live out a couple of values. 

Value 1. 

A 22-hour car ride has a way of helping you get to know someone. Relationship Building, Check!

Value 2. 

4x4ing down washed-out roads and feeling your way through signless forks in the Salt Flats with not a sign of life as far as the eye can see, all for the hope of perfectly glassy 400 yard long waves.

Adventure and Freedom, Check!

My wife often asks me to qualify my definition of fear. All fear is not bad. Anyone who is genuinely fearless is either dead or will be soon. Healthy fear is meant to keep us aware of danger. Fear partnered with wisdom is the recipe. At its core, risk is releasing control and putting trust into something else; i.e., faith. I am only beginning to recognize how complete trust in Jesus in all areas of my life, IS THE ADVENTURE! Life is beautifully unpredictable, unknown with bends, surprises, opportunities, and overwhelming joy and love available every second of every day. 

Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

-John 10:10

A life of surrender requires risk, and risk is scary. 

Each hour that passed, driving deeper down the peninsula brought more and more peace. The kind people we interacted with, the beauty of the landscape, and the delicious tacos we consumed all slowly eroded the fear. As fear subsided, joy increased all the more. 

I had never seen anything like the Sea of Cortez, and the first sight was breathtaking. It must have been 20 miles of beach before the water's edge, sharply contrasting the desert with still deep aqua color. We prepared the best we could complete with extra gas, clean water, spare tire, tools, a pump, and a friend who could speak the native tongue. The temperature was over 100 degrees, and we had to keep a vigilant eye out for the road that would regularly disappear due to recent storms. Many parts the road were so bad or nonexistent we had to let the air out of our tires to soften the ride and provide better traction as we floated over salt flats and powdery sand. If we got stuck, it was up to us to dig out. 

After two days of crossing rugged terrain, we arrived just in time to witness the sunset over Scorpion Bay, and it looked like a lake. 

In the morning, the swell had still not shown up, so we went for a swim. I brought my dive gloves and googles to take a look at the reef. An octopus presented itself, so I dove down to pick a fight. Ink covered my mask and tentacles squeezed my arm as I squeezed its head, avoiding his sharp beak. After thanking the octopus for its life, we enjoyed octopus tacos that evening in preparation for the coveted swell slated to arrive mañana. 

 We woke to the sound of explosions on the sand. The swell was filling in peeling across the seven points. Surf stoked teenage versions emerged from each of us, and we became like boys of Goonies when they discovered One Eye'd Willy's pirate ship and gold. Freedom and joy consumed us. The waves were our treasure. After an incalculable wave count and six hours of surfing, we were thoroughly exhausted, sunburnt, and ready to refuel with fish tacos and a couple of cervezas. 

 I believe God wants to give you the desires of your heart. Like any good father, He provides a way to trust him and his goodness. The way to your desire has to cost something. Otherwise, you won't appreciate it. We exchange money for things we value. Items of value have a cost.

The desire that God has put in your heart is on the other side of your fear. You must get uncomfortable to discover it. 

What are you willing to give up to get to your real desire? 

What are you holding on to that is preventing you from taking a risk to go through the fear? What is the value of staying safe, comfortable, and "in the know" about everything?

Do you resemble a man who is living adventurously and in freedom, or have you bought into lies that have made your life resemble that of a slave, one who is disconnected from desire, simply indentured to the demands of everyone else, and numbing the boredom with alcohol, porn, or vice of choice?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.

-Galatians 5:1


Jesus is Freedom. 

When we embody the real Jesus, allowing ourselves to be surrendered and consumed by him, we can fully experience the freedom and full life he promises, but we are invited to play a part. Believing Jesus to lead your life into freedom takes discipline. It's not a one-time transaction. We get to play. The difference of those on the field versus those on sidelines is a matter of discipline and trust. Too many men have benched themselves on the sidelines, and it's time to get in the game!

Discipline requires discomfort. The current state of modern comforts and play it safe mentalities are inoculating hearts and stripping men of their wild side, their most authentic side. When fear appears, we avoid the risk, hide, and slowly die in a clean uniform and well-preserved body.

If you want to avoid a slow death of passivity and hiding, intentionally get uncomfortable. Like physical training, you can use your body to train your mind. Here is a practical exercise. Start your day with simple discomfort of a cold shower. Your flesh will be screaming to get out of the cold, but by fighting the temptation to get out, remaining in the cold, you will begin to develop what I call "The Overcome Muscle." The overcome muscle is what you flex when temptation comes and defeat the temptation. Continuing this exercise, you will learn how to take back control of your life. Surrender to Jesus, and let his strength empower you next time fear temps you. Jesus modeled this with his 40 days without food in the desert. His body begged for food, but he beat it into submission, and in result, he was Spiritually strengthened. The Devil came to Tempt him with every allure of man, but Jesus resisted and sent him away. The 40 days in the desert developed quite a strong overcome muscle. 

What do you have to lose in attempting to get uncomfortable and take a risk?

I can guarantee following Christ will not be a boring life, but one of adventure, freedom, attained desires, and life to the full. It will cost you everything, and in exchange, you will inherit everything and more. 

Surfing perfect overhead point break waves, under the Mexican sun, with close buddies satisfied a part deep in my heart. I was swelled with love and joy because God leads me through fear and into the risk of pursuing my heart's desire, the desire he put in my heart in the first place. Jesus knows us well. The Bible says he knows the number of hairs on our head. If he cares to know how many hairs you have, how much more does he care for your heart and your desires, passions, work, dreams, and relationships? 

So release control and take a cold shower. Develop your Overcome Muscle, take a risk, and get in the game! 

For all creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

-Romans 8:19

The world is waiting for you to come fully alive, to be revealed and sent out to fulfill your purpose on earth as it is in heaven. 

It is time. Let’s Go!

Zac Ernst1 Comment