“Momma, you done yet?” Trey tugged at my sleeve. “No, honey. We're still eating breakfast. You can either sit here with us or get down and play.”
Trey looked around Alice's Diner, familiar from our vacation the year before, not familiar enough to feel like our hometown diner. He wanted to explore, but wasn't sure about venturing off on his own.
He tried a different tack.
“Dad, you get down now?” “No, Trey. I'm still eating too.”
Seeing the frustration on Trey's face, I finally said, “Trey, are you afraid of walking around where you can't see us?” Behind us, the line of booths offered a maze of fun, but obscured Trey's view of us.
Nodding, Trey looked at me. “Honey, what do we say when we're afraid of something?” Trey cocked his head to one side and thought for a moment. Pointing his finger he said firmly, “In name of Jesus, GO. A. WAY!"
Overcoming fear... Even swans do it!
“If you're afraid, honey, you just tell that fear to go away. Momma and Dad are right here, we'll see you.”
Trey's face cleared up, and he began to pick his way over to the far end of the restaurant. Facing fear with the faith of a little one and courage backed by knowing that we were watching, he went exploring.
Earlier that week, Trey and I had visited the playground with my local Mothers of Preschoolers group. A seven year old girl was playing on the small rock wall, but would get to the top and freeze. Crying, she would call for her mother to come and get her down. “She's afraid to go over the wall,” her mom explained to me. “Every time she gets to the top, she's too afraid to swing her leg over the side. Watching her little sister shimmy up one side and down the other is so frustrating for her! I just don't know how to help her...”
Boy, could I empathize with that little girl's fear. Earlier in the year, I had stood by our new pony Sarah's side, crying in frustration at the fear I felt about getting back into the saddle after years of not riding.
Walking over to the rock wall, I started to climb it. “You know, Jenny*, I get afraid too.” With each word, I inched my way up to the top of the wall. “Did you know that God doesn't want us to be afraid?” She nodded her head. “And if God doesn't want us to be afraid, then who does want us to feel afraid?” “The devil!”, she stated seriously. “So if God doesn't want us to be afraid, and the devil does, who wins if we don't do the things that make us afraid?” “The devil!”, she agreed.
“When I get afraid,” I added from my precarious perch on the top of the rock wall. “I have a bible verse that I use to help me do the thing that scares me. Do you want me to tell you what it is?” Jenny nodded, eyes wide as she watched me climb over the wall and begin my descent. “For God does not give us a spirit of fear,” I said, “but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) My foot touched the ground and I breathed my own inward sigh of relief. That wall was high!
“Your turn,” I said brightly. “Ready?”
Jenny began her ascent, saying the bible verse to herself. Her voice grew louder and stronger as she reached the top. Throwing her leg confidently over the side, she began her descent, her mom's hand poised to steady her. She called out firmly, “God has not given us a spirit of fear! But of power. And of Love! And of a SOUND MIND!”
Reaching the bottom, she turned to her mom, gave her a huge grin, and ran off to conquer the next playground obstacle.
Her mom threw her arms around me. “Thank you! I can never think of what to say when they're afraid. Now I know!”
And now YOU know.
Something scaring you these days? It could be the prompting the holy spirit, warning you. If you're not sure, pray about it, read your bible and ask a trusted mature friend (You know, the one that doesn't always tell you what you want to hear.)
But if you're afaid of something you're supposed to do, ask yourself: who wins if I let fear rule my life? Then throw your leg over that fear, and speak the truth – and move forward with confidence!
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)