My eight year-old grandson stared at me for a moment. Then he flew down the basement stairs. and shouted to his siblings, Guys, guess what? Grandma fits into my jacket!
Well almost. The sleeves were a tad long and I mighta had to suck my stomach in to zip it. At 4’11” tall, I’m used to fitting into kid-sized clothing. I’m used to 8 year-olds standing next to me and saying “I’m almost as tall as you are.” I’m used to short jokes. My typical response is I’m this tall because I’m afraid of heights!
Truth is, I’m pygmy-sized because that is what God-ordained for me. But the fear of heights? I think it is one of the anxieties I grew all on my own. I’ve been a scaredy-cat much of my life. Scared of little things like mice in the walls of an apartment I lived in as a child. Scared of big things like hurricanes and tornados. Scared of being invisible and scared of being seen. Scared of success and scared of failure. So many fears.
And I’ve had a deep fear of heights that has shouted “Scaredy Cat!” to me during various seasons in my life.
Like years ago, when I climbed to the top of a steep lighthouse in Oregon with my mother-in-law and daughter. They both leaned over the rail at the top, chatting away, while expressing awe and wonder. And me? Well, I was pressed as far back against the wall as I could be, sweating profusely.
Or once, when in the Air Force, I was offered a ride on one of the CH-53 helicopters, and I accepted, only to regret it. I thought for sure I was going to die – just from hyperventilating, especially when the pilot went into an auto-rotation. I never got on another helicopter.
In more recent years, as a passenger in a car heading up Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park, Colorado, I had to avert my eyes from the sheer drop-offs and talk myself through some deep breathing while clenching the door handle.
Yeah, some of y’all might be calling me a Scaredy Cat. I’ve called myself that enough times.
But in 2017, I stared that fear of heights right in the eye, and challenged it to a showdown, via an invite to my daughters. “Let’s skydive,” I suggested.
They thought it was a marvelous idea.
I, on the other hand, decided that I must have had a virus that affected my cognitive abilities when I came up with the idea. But my daughters wouldn’t let me back out, so I scheduled our tandem jump sessions and we paid lots of money to
our torturers the folks at Mile Hi Skydive. Just jump, Scaredy Cat I told myself.
When jump day arrived, and the small aircraft began its ascent, I was terrified. The pilot thought it was a good idea to leave the door open so we could watch as we rose to where we would exit the plane – about 18,000 feet above sea level. I disagreed.
I had read beforehand that we would freefall at approximately 130 miles per hour for the first 5000 or so feet, before our parachutes opened. Yes, I read that and still got on the plane.
Sometimes you have to step out – or fall out – into your fear.
I was reading in Luke 10 for my devotion this morning and it struck me that Jesus sent out approximately 70 men, in groups of twos. Before they left, He told them Behold, I’m sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. v3 In other words, think about this carefully: I’m sending you out into what could be a really scary or dangerous situation. They definitely weren’t words of comfort.
I know there is a great debate about whether wolves are aggressive or not (my husband, son and I recently sat in a caged area with a couple of gray wolves, one of whom tried to remove the clip from my hair) but the reality is WOLVES HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO TEAR A LAMB TO PIECES.
So yeah, it might not have been an easy thing to say, “Okay, Jesus, pick me!” Mighta felt safer to come up with a thousand and one excuses for staying behind. But the men went, in groups of twos, perhaps shaking in their bare feet (they were told to go without money bags and sandals), perhaps wishing they could turn around. They went. And I think there is much we can learn from their willing obedience in spite of fear.
Because just a few verses later, it says: in verse 17 …the seventy-two returned with joy…
Who doesn’t want more of that?
Those seventy-two learned that one way we can experience JOY is when we step out into obedience, face our fears, and go where God calls us. There is joy when we have a willingness to be lambs amongst wolves if it is where we are supposed to be. These men saw and experienced the power of the Lord in ways they never would have if they had stayed put.
I’ve mentioned in recent posts that I quit my very good job as a braillist because I sensed God calling me somewhere else. I was terrified because I was quitting without any retirement. I was quitting without anything lined up for future work. I was quitting for something that I felt ill equipped to do.
Quitting my job seemed to be even more hair-brained of an idea than jumping out of an airplane when I was terrified of heights.
That tandem freefall from a little aircraft in 2017 was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I did get nauseated after the parachute was opened, and I did throw up after we landed, but man, the joy was incredible.
And it has been the same with this new “work” He has called me to, of Christian Life Coaching. I’ve experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in ways that I never would have if I had stayed in my safe, wonderful world of creating Braille materials.
I may get terrified on the ascent when I do another tandem skydive (yeah, I plan on a “next time,” Lord willing) but I am empowered by stepping out into my fear that first time.
Likewise, I may still get scared when God calls me to new things, but I have been empowered and encouraged by the joy of obedience.
Fear has turned to joy.
So, my friends, how about you? Is there something that God is calling you to that terrifies you? In your career? Your relationships? In going someplace new? In doing something new? What is holding you back? Step into your fears and get ready for abundant joy!
With a joyful heart,
Note: As a Christian Life Coach, one of the things I do is help my clients identify fears that might be holding them back from being who God called them to be, and going where He calls them to go. One way I do this, is walking with them through “Five Rs” concerning the fear. Although it is beneficial to have someone to go through this 5 step process with you to help you discover “aha” moments, you can also do it on your own:
1. Recognize the fear. Name it.
2. Reflect (where did this fear come from? How is is limiting you? What would your life be like without it?)
3. Release, renounce, and/or repent (concerning the fear)
4. Replace the fear with truth and then
5. Reinforce the truth by taking action.
If you’d like to learn more about Into Abundance LLC check out my page and contact me. I currently have just a few openings. Endorsements coming soon from both practicum and paid clients.