If you will let me have a proud mum moment for a minute, I want to tell you about my middle son Ethan. Ethan has a very unique wee personality, he loves the life of comfort and convenience. Yeah like. I hear you kid! Who doesn’t?
He is also a creature of habit and thrives in routine. Which means that, as I’m sure you can imagine, the summer holidays can become a little stressful for him and sometimes upsetting. This would mean that sometimes he is not as resilient when faced with new challenges.
A few weeks ago, on an unusually hot day here in Northern Ireland, we changed into our swim gear and packed up our buckets and spades and headed to the beach. We as a family are no strangers to the beach, it’s our happy place for sure. We love the beach and spend a lot of time walking near the beach. However, what we don’t normally do is go swimming in the water, because, usually, it would be freezing and what fun is that? Well, that and also my overwhelming fear of embarrassment of being caught in my bathing suit. I know it’s a vanity thing and I’m working on it.
However, that particular day God must have granted me with extra courage because there I was on the local beach, stripped down to my swimwear lying flat on my back on a picnic blanket while the boys built sandcastles beside me. Sorry, that almost sounded idyllic. Please don’t be disillusioned, what was actually happening was not the serene picture you may imagine. My boys were not blissfully building a beautiful sandcastle together, quite the opposite… It was more a case of knocking over each other’s build and throwing sand at each other which resulted in a wrestling match, my blanket being covered in sand, tears and losing my book page as I jumped up to separate the scuffle in a very undignified manner, which included an almost boob flash! So you can imagine how eager I was to get into the water to cool my burning cheeks.
So down to the water we went to cool off. While Joshua and I ran into the ice cold water squealing, Ethan had stopped dead on the edge, refusing to take another step. We cheered him on and tried to coax him in but there was no moving him beyond a few steps in and as soon as the seaweed hit his feet he jumped back out and started crying. He desperately wanted to go further, but his fear of what lurked beneath the water just wouldn’t allow him to. As he stood crying at the edge of the sea he was left with no choice but to turn back and watch his brother and me from the blanket. We tried to encourage him, but it was only him that could make that move into the water.
A few days later we came back to the beach and again Joshua and I ploughed into the water and called for Ethan to join us. We promised the seaweed wasn’t an issue and somehow convinced him that we would keep him safe. As he waded out to meet us in the water, a few wee tears to started to fall but, once he realised he had conquered his fear, his sense of achievement and joy took over and he started feeling really proud of himself. I was so proud of him and since that day a few weeks ago we have been swimming in the sea close to every day because he enjoys it so much. He has even jumped over seaweed and jelly fish to get in! He is now so keen to pack up that swim bag and head to the sea.
here he is. swimming away. what a great boy!
Don’t get me wrong, Ethan still experiences the fear. He still has to make a decision every time he sees that seaweed whether the fear is going to control him or he is going to conquer his fear and enjoy his fun at the other side of his fear
I don’t think anyone of us is exempt from this type of crippling fear at some stage in our lives. I know personally, I have suffered from all types of fear, both rational and irrational. I had a terrible fear of heights. I only overcome this when I climb a mountain, like an actual mountain, not a metaphoric mountain. I have a rather embarrassing fear of touching raw wood. I know, I know, don’t ask. I have a constant underlying fear of rejection and criticism. I fear being a disappointment, I fear the future. It’s not that I live in this constant state of fear. When these thoughts arise, fear is the emotion I face.
The Bible tells us that perfect love cast out fear. 1 John 4:18. That is the love we receive from Jesus. So is that all we have to do then is receive this love and we will never feel fear again? it would be good, but NO! not really.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
We have an enemy and his plot is to kill any hope for a future, and his number one weapon that he likes to threaten us with is fear, because it’s his main purpose to hold you back from your future. And he will plot and scheme and use all different kinds of strategies. He will use people and circumstances to convince you that God is not for you and his intentions for you are not good.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Genesis 50:20 NLT
But it is walking by Faith and knowing that God is good and trusting him in every circumstance, that he has you and is going to take care of you, that you will be able to say to the enemy, on yer bike.
I love this quote from Joyce Meyers. We give the enemy access to our lives through fear and we give God access to our life through faith.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT
It is not for us to figure out the outcome of our circumstance or control the future, as tempting as it may be, but we are called to trust God with it. Just as Ethan trusted me that no harm would come to him in my care in the water, God wants you to put your trust in your Heavenly Father and trust that you will be safe in his care. And when you do, you can experience all the joy that living a life in the will of God will bring you.
““But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”
Jeremiah 17:7 NLT