I remember the exact moment. I remember what I was wearing and what the air smelled like. I normally have a pretty crummy memory but this day has buried itself in my head. It was seven years ago, and it was the day of my regional track meet. I had been training for six months to run the 1600 meter race. I was nervous out of my mind and got about twelve minutes of sleep the night before. Instead of pumping myself up to run the race, fear began to infiltrate every thought I had. I was scared of losing. I was scared of not being able to finish the race. I was scared of not making my parents proud. I was scared. Now this isn’t something I’m proud of, but I decided that it would be best if I told my coach I was sick and couldn’t run the race. As much as she tried to talk me out of that decision, I insisted that there was no possible way I could run even after all the countless hours I had put in to train.
I let fear get a foothold on my life that day.
Stories like that weren’t uncommon in my growing up years. Unfortunately, fear was something that I let make decisions for me. I’m not surprised that the Lord has used the last two or so years to weed a lot of deep-rooted fear out of my life.
Unfortunately, fear was something that I let make decisions for me.
A year or so ago, I got high ropes trained. Basically what I’m saying is if you’re looking for someone to run a zipline, set up a climbing wall or just tie a stinking strong knot, I may be your person. Here’s the deal. You go your whole life thinking you’re not scared of heights until someone asks you to climb to the top of a 45-foot pole and trust that the equipment will hold your weight while you hook up a belay system to a cable. I’d be a liar if I said that I wasn’t shaking/sweaty/slightly nauseated at the top of that pole. It was that day that I realized that I had a decision to make. I could decide to walk away from the training because I was too scared, or I could step into something that was scary (a decision antagonistic to my usual way of thinking).
One of my favorite stories in scripture comes from Joshua 3 and 4. It is here that the Israelites are standing on the brink of a swollen Jordan River. The waters are roaring and the idea of crossing it seems pretty lofty. In Joshua 1, the Lord promised Joshua that He would lead His people across the rushing river and into the land that He had sworn to give them. So when the time comes, Joshua rolls up with His squad of Israelites and they stare down the task in front of them. The Lord tells them:
“When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.” Joshua 3:8
The Lord is essentially saying that if the people will just step in the waters of the river, if they will just get their feet wet, “the waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap” (v. 13). The scripture goes on to say that as soon as their feet touched the edge of the water, the Jordan (which was at flood stage mind you) ceased to flow.
“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:17
What? That’s completely crazy. The Lord called them to cross and then He made a way for that to happen, as impossible as it seemed.
…He (God) showed up and dried up the water underneath their feet the second they touched their toes to the water.
When the Israelites trusted that the Lord would do as He promised, and merely got their feet wet, He showed up and dried up the water underneath their feet the second they touched their toes to the water.
I’m learning that the Lord challenges us to do the same thing with our fears. Even when it came to ropes training, my initial response to the situation was fear. However, the more I got my feet wet and chose to trust the Lord and the equipment, the more I saw the Lord shake my fear. By the end of the week, I didn’t feel quite so scared anymore. In fact, I’m sort of itching to get back on that ropes course as soon as possible.
Ropes training is obviously just an example. I’m not necessarily saying that we all need to go jump out of an airplane in order to be brave, but I think there are a lot of fears that plague our life and hold us back from fully trusting in the Lord.
…I think there are a lot of fears that plague our life and hold us back from fully trusting in the Lord.
Trusting the Lord with our finances is scary.
Raising a family is scary.
Moving away from home is scary.
Being known deeply, weaknesses and all, is scary.
Submitting our life to the Lord’s Will is scary.
Honestly, there are days where simply being a human in this crazy world is scary.
The list goes on and on and on.
But I think sometimes (a lot of the time) the Lord calls us to do scary things because it stretches our faith in a Father who promises to part the waters for us when we follow Him.
…sometimes (a lot of the time) the Lord calls us to do scary things because it stretches our faith in a Father who promises to part the waters for us when we follow Him.
There’s a command you use when you’re running one of the high ropes elements on a ropes course. When the participant is ready to be pulled to the top of a swing by a pull team, they yell “Trusting!” and the pull team yells “Trust us!”
Fear is deceiving. It tells us that the path is impossible and that there’s no way through it. My hope is that my life would reflect a position of yelling “Trusting!” when the Lord gently yells “Trust me!” in the wake of my fear.