I grew up a fairly fearful child. Didn’t like loud noises. Scared of the dark. Afraid of storms. Didn’t want to be away from my mom. And I have spent much of my adult spiritual journey working through my fears with God.
Fear is a bossy-pants (as we like to call someone bossy in my house). It likes to control us. To bind us. To inhibit us from life. It paralyzes. And it has shown up big for many of us these past few months as we live through a pandemic.
My son Micah follows in my sensitive-hearted footsteps and struggles with fear. One of his big fears is storms. Twice this summer we have made this mistake of thinking that we could beat the storm rolling in while taking a walk after dinner. Last week was a particularly harrowing experience for Micah. Just a block and a half from home, as we were power walking, to put it mildly, there was a lightning strike just a couple blocks from us. Micah went into hysterics and climbed me like a tree. We consoled him, without losing too much precious time on our journey to beat the storm home. A neighbor popped out of her porch and asked how far we had to go, offered us shelter on her porch, offered to help us push our stroller home. Such kindness. I’m sure we must have been a sight – two parents with three frantic children, a stroller, and a 65-pound frightened and confused golden doodle, and a partridge in a pear tree. We thanked her and continued what was an all-out sprint towards home at this point.
Before the first raindrops fell, we were safely inside our living room. But Micah was shaken. At bedtime he timidly confessed that he was still feeling afraid from the storm. “Mom, I’m still afraid. Why didn’t God just stop the storm? Isn’t he big enough?” I love these honest moments. Haven’t we all asked these questions? Haven’t we all asked him why he didn’t just take away our storm? Haven’t we all been left feeling shaken and afraid because of our circumstances?
The truth of the matter is that, yes, he could. But sometimes he chooses not to because he has things for us to learn, or because he wants to bless us in the storm. But we have to be looking for those lessons and blessings. All Micah could see was his fear from his experience, but I wanted him to look through new eyes for the ways that God had helped us in the storm.
How did God bless us in our storm?
He sent a kind neighbor, whom we don’t even know, out onto her porch who saw us and offered help. That kind of kindness always touches me and assures me that God sees me.
He showed up in the storm; he protected us and brought us home safely through the storm, even allowing Andrew to see my cell phone fly out of my pocket as I sprinted towards home. He sees and controls every detail.
When we are walking through something fearful, sometimes we must do it afraid (thanks Elisabeth Eliot!). Sometimes fear is not removed, circumstances are not changed, and we must press on through the circumstances. Jesus is Lord of the wind and the waves, but let us not forget that he did allow his disciples in the Bible to experience storms before he intervened. The same is true for us today. Will we have eyes to see the ways he is working in our fear-filled storms?
Fear doesn’t need to bind us or keep us from living. We can enter the storm (and live through it!) knowing that Jesus is there. That’s not to say we can be cavalier… wisdom has its place in life too. Perhaps the third time we consider a walk as a storm is rolling in, we will consider the wisdom of our previous experiences and stay home. 🙂