A while ago, I wrote a story about being brave and what it means. I am terrified of heights and I went zip-lining thinking I would conquer that fear. What I discovered is that sometimes particular fears we have never go away. They are always with us. But if we trust God, we can still do things that scare us and that is what being brave means. I was proud of what I had learned from that experience and felt like I had strengthened my faith.
About a year later, we went on vacation in southern Indiana. It is a beautiful part of the Midwest with rolling hills, winding rivers and gorgeous limestone caves deep underground. While we were hiking on a trail in the hills, we came to a lookout tower that went up about 45 feet. It was a windy day and the tower swayed a little bit. You could see through the metal steps that went three stories into the air and it was built right on the edge of a cliff, so you could look down on the surrounding valleys.
My husband and son ran right up to it and began to climb. “Come on Mommy!” my son called as he climbed the stairs. I started to follow him and then stopped at the bottom of that tower, frozen in fear. “Let’s go,” I encouraged myself, “you went zip lining off towers this high. You can do this.” But I couldn’t.
The last line of my bravery story came back to me at that moment ““All you need to do is trust God and you will be able to do things that scare you.” I truly believed that when I wrote it. I still do believe it, but I did not want to climb those stairs. I walked up half the flight of stairs and came right back down. No view is so beautiful, that I wanted to be terrified just to see it.
“What’s the matter, don’t you trust God?” a little imp inside my head sang. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, my heart racing though I wasn’t even moving, and began to cry. I don’t know why. It’s like someone had opened a trapdoor beneath my feet and I had seconds before I would begin to fall down an endless shoot of guilt and fear. There was nothing to hold on to, nothing to console me. “Don’t you trust God?” You can do the things that scare you, if you trust Him. “But I do…”
What did this mean? Did I not actually trust Him to take care of me, even though I had learned that lesson once already? Do I only trust Him sometimes? Am I a liar and I just told a big fib to a bunch of children? I published it - it’s on paper in black and white, why isn’t it true?!
Learning to know yourself is sometimes a painful process.
Then a kinder voice began to speak to me and she said “God knows you trust Him. You know you trust Him. Who else do you need to prove it to?” I’ve been thinking about that question ever since.
I’m not sure why I keep wrestling with my fear of heights. It isn’t a character flaw. It doesn’t hurt other people. God made me that way and there may be a reason I just don’t understand. Sometimes the things we do, don’t make sense to us. Being OK with that shows we trust God.
There are lots of things God asks us to do that may seem scary to us or out of our comfort zone. He wants us to grow and stretch and become more of who He created us to be. He doesn’t want us to be completely terrified, though. More importantly, He does not want us to feel like His requests are a test to prove we are worthy of His love or that we are committed to Him. He doesn’t ask us to do things that are bad for us.
Far too often, we complicate our own lives by wanting proof that things are true. God already knows everything, so He is certain of what is true and doesn’t need proof of anything. I don’t need to prove my faith in God, my trust of Him, my conviction that He loves me to anyone. But myself. And you don’t either.
You are a particular person, who has certain qualities. Not all of them are a choice. Don’t let stumbling blocks make you question your own faith. Don’t let the fears define you. Let them guide you to not do foolish things. Let them point out weaknesses or areas you could improve. Don’t let them rule you.
God doesn’t give you super powers to do things He never intended. He created you to do things you are naturally good at and most of the time, enjoy. He knows who you are. He asks you to do things, so you can know yourself and others around you. Embrace that task and you will never have to prove anything ever again.