Fear is a funny thing. Well, not actually funny, but you know what I mean.
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes; it affects young and old and everyone in-between. It can come and go at the strangest times and at different speeds. It has physical side effects, some of which cripple for life. The definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat”. So, whether you are afraid of spiders, public speaking, or high heels (yes, that’s a thing), you are in good company because everyone is afraid of something.
My oldest son has a string of them. He is or has been afraid of: loud noises, the dark, being alone, heights, monsters in the living room, being sucked up into the sky, being attacked by lions or bad guys, any kind of flying insect, roller coasters, vegetables, spewing water (Bellagio fountains to be exact) and anything terrible happening to his brother. He’s battled fear quite a bit in his 11 years and is prone to nightmares, so we have prayed many prayers about overcoming these fears and trusting God to protect us.
Recently, he came face to face with his fear of heights. We were on a road trip in Colorado, driving up the highest paved road in America. It takes you to the summit of Mt. Evans, elevation 14,130 feet. My boys kept asking what we were going to do that day, and I teased lightheartedly, “We’re going to drive up to the clouds!”
“No, not really. But we will be up on a really tall mountain.”
But guess what? We drove up into the clouds. That’s not smoke behind us.
But rewind back to the base of the mountain.
I’m not sure why I thought it would be a relaxing drive, but it wasn’t. It was scary. It took about 45 minutes to get to the top, almost all of which were filled with winding switch-back thrills that took us on both on the inside and outside edges of very steep cliffs. As we got higher, the road became narrower. Soon, the treeline started to thin as much as our amount of road. It seemed each turn took us closer and closer to the edge, with no guardrails for a buffer. We were all getting a bit nervous, but none more than my oldest. He adjusted his place in the back seat to the middle so he’d be further away from the edge of the cliff. He laid down at one point, so he didn’t have to see how high up we were. Even my youngest declared, “I’m going to play on my tablet now to calm myself down.” (He’s our rational one.)
My husband, who was driving, began peering out the window searching for a lake down below. He had been on this road before, hiked down one of these massive steep cliffs, and climbed on some boulders close to the lake he was looking for. I could not fathom such craziness, but he insisted a lake was there. The more he peered out the window, the more stressed my son got. Already a bit frantic from the sheer heights, and the edge of the mountain leering just outside his window, he pleaded as though it might be the last thing he ever said, “EYES ON THE ROAD.” It was a desperately ironic request from a son to his father. He was clearly feeling that ‘unpleasant emotion’ that emanates from fear.
It was so ironic, well-timed and perfectly pitched that it made for a laugh we will never forget. It was a moment that will live on in our memories forever. We survived (clearly) the rest of the drive, making sure my husband kept his eyes on the road. Once we were out of the truck, our son was cured. He said, ‘Well, I guess that helped me get over my fear of heights.” He trotted to the lookout and was on cloud nine – literally.
Now any time we need a good laugh, we just say, ‘EYES ON THE ROAD.”
But what if we didn’t keep our eyes on the road that day? Well, I wouldn’t be here now writing about fear, that’s for sure.
Peter had a little trouble keeping his eyes in the right direction once.
“Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:29-33 (ESV)
Can’t you just hear Jesus adding, “Peter, next time, KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME.”
What about you? Do you have some fears making wind and waves in your life? I know I do.
We can walk on water, too, if we KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS. Sounds simple, but it’s hard to do.
“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.” Hebrews 12:2 (GN)
I’m praying for you today for your faith to grow bigger than your fears.