“Fear not, for I am with you…I will strengthen you, I will help you…” Isaiah 41:10
I love everything about summer. I love that it’s camp time and it’s warm outside and there are so many bright colors in nature and you get a break from the normal routine. There’s just one part of summertime that I despise: the evening of July 4th.
If you’ve been to Main camp and know me, you might have noticed my lack in attendance at the fireworks show. Ever since I was little, I have been petrified of fireworks. I can’t stand the loud noises and I just don’t like the idea of shooting fire off into the sky. I am scared. Is there something that you fear?
Luckily, I have figured out how to cope with my fear of fireworks. It’s easy to avoid them by putting in some earplugs, hopping in the shower and humming a little tune. But I have many intangible fears, as well. These fears are the ones that consume my thoughts and are not as easy to get rid of.
Fears like failure or losing touch with loved ones or not living up to all that Christ knows I can do for Him. I find myself wandering in thoughts about how great our God is and how I am so little. It’s scary. He has the most abundant lives for us planned out if we decide to live for Him. I get scared thinking about how high His expectations must be and how I am so imperfect. But then I remember verses like Isaiah 41:10, and I feel comforted.
God does not expect us to be perfectly fearless, strong, and independent. He tells us throughout scripture that He is with us and He will help us. These moments in the Bible really stick with me. I love knowing that God is the best shield against my fears. I find myself going to these passages and really absorbing their meaning. If we let Him, God will come with us everywhere we go: to strengthen us when we’re weak, lend an insight when we need help, and to conquer our greatest fears.
I live in Sewanee, Tennessee where there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore. Since it is such an isolated, calm place, it’s not uncommon for students to go on night hikes.
Last fall I was on a night trail run on what seemed to be a normal evening. It was dark and I was alone. I was on a trail that I have run many times and I was not scared. But then something happenend … I heard the cry of a firework and then just a few seconds later, “BOOM! POP! BOOM!”
Now, I was terrified. I could feel the tears coming to my eyes and my body starting to shake. I was about three miles from campus. I knew that I was too far away from my safe shower to avoid the fireworks. So what did I do? I was forced to confront my fears. When I did this, I heard Libby’s sweet voice come to my head saying, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
I continued on my run hearing the fireworks shooting off above me. This verse from Psalm 23 was on repeat in my head. I couldn’t turn it off. It actually got louder. I started hearing a pit full of campers saying this verse along with Libby’s voice. I felt strengthened. I felt helped. By the time the fireworks finished, I wasn’t even that scared.
I know it was because God was with me. I never found out who shot off those fireworks or why they were going off on a random evening, but I like to think it was God’s way of giving me insight. He wanted to show me that my fears are not to be dwelled upon because He is with me.