I had to make a decision, quick. Give in to fear and miss out, or to feel the fear and do it anyway. Most, if not all of us, have been in that place before.
The last summer of my college career I chose to go make memories as a camp counselor. I was at SpringHill Camp, in Indiana, and I was entrusted with leading high schoolers (yes, I’m one of those people that actually LIKES teenagers). I did many crazy things that summer and it has proved to be some of the best months of my life thus far. But that day, I found myself standing at the top of a rather steep, wet hill, straddling a BMX bike that had no brakes, with a life jacket on, and about 20 pairs of rather freaked out eyes staring at me. Apparently, when you are the counselor, you are supposed to show the kids that “there is nothing to be afraid of!” But, in truth, I myself was freakin’ out inside.
When did I sign up for this?
If I don’t do this, not one single girl, and many of the boys, will not do this and possibly miss out on something pretty fantastic.
This is stupid.
I am gonna die.
Tell them they are right, this is scary and should be avoided.
Don’t be dumb, Katrina, you love adventure, you don’t let fear win and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t try this, not to mention you will teach these kids to be scared the rest of their life if you don’t… just stop thinking and do it.
And so I did… I chose to tell fear to, “Shut up!”, and I went for it; I picked my feet up off the ground, put my weight on the locked pedals and headed down the hill… toward the taller, bigger, scarier of two ramps that would then catapult me off into the lake where I would fly through the air while letting go of the bike and it and I would land in the water.
Or so was the plan.
Right before the ramp, I managed to veer off and went directly off the land and flew between the ramps into the lake – and boards. It hurt. I immediately realized I had scraped all the skin off my right knee, it was not good. But I had bigger problems. I was right back to the original decision with the added bonus of pain. I realized I had 5 seconds to decide what the outcome was going to be for these kids… I had just realized their greatest fear (and mine, let’s be honest) about this BMX lake jump, and I now had a more grand platform to teach them from. I knew right then I had to get out and try it again.
So without hesitation, figuratively giving fear my hand to talk to, I grabbed the bike, jumped out of the water and did what any good counselor would do at that moment when asked, “Are you okay?”. I lied. Okay, not really, I just didn’t tell HOW bad it hurt and definitely didn’t let on that trying again was the last thing I wanted to attempt!
I climbed the hill, jumped back on the bike and took off down the hill – and this time, I succeeded. And boy howdy was it fun!! (Seriously, you should do it if given the chance). EVERY single camper went off that jump after me. And they all came out with huge smiles and talking about how glad they were that they went for it.
I have no idea if that day made a lasting impact on those kids, but I know for a fact God has used it many times in my life. Even today. From that day on, fear’s voice seems weaker to me, ’cause I experienced flying through the air. In Deuteronomy 31:6, we are told, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” We all face our own steep, wet hills with large ramps at the bottom. Most not so literal as that but more sneaky fear that would like to cripple us as wives, husbands, parents… any important aspect of life. I believe there is a real Adversary that is seeking to paralyze us all with fear and sabotage us from experiencing the abundant life that God created for us to have. But if we follow Jesus, if we take God at His word that He is with us, we can take courage in all situations. I know, easier said than done when you’re banged up. However, in the moments we face our fear and put our trust in God, we can expect an exhilarating end… there may be some pain in the middle ground, but that will pale in comparison to the end ride.
So many quotes on fear talk about having no fear, getting rid of fear, etc etc. I think that is hogwash. Fear is going to be present throughout our life. Again, Adversary trying to steal, kill and destroy our lives. Our choice comes with how we respond to fear. Fear is a lie. So, though we will always face fear, we do not have to be afraid. We can choose to follow Truth, instead.
Eight years ago, when my husband was facing the huge challenge of making it through fire academy, and he was being hounded by the fear of failure, one Scripture verse became his motto and I leave you today with that encouragement as well:
Please comment and share with us your “flying through the air” wins in the face of fear!
If you are struggling with fear right now, go here for more encouraging words!
This song, Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns, is great too.