There is probably not a person alive who doesn’t want to have more faith: faith in their relationships, faith in their work skills, faith in sharing talent, faith in travel, faith in God’s will for their lives, faith in facing a fear, the list goes on and on. Moving forward by faith can be a scary thing, because faith is so often stepping into something of which we have limited knowledge, or even stepping into the complete unknown.
Last year my mother and I spent two months in America. It was a wonderful time speaking in numerous churches, visiting with many dear friends. We traveled by car through several states along the east coast. When we crossed the state line into Pennsylvania, getting closer to Philadelphia, I had no idea the level of fear that was about to enter my personal world, smothering all peace within me. I was about to drive over, not one, but several very high bridges. I confess — I am terror-struck when it comes to skyscraper bridges.
The first one came upon me suddenly; it was just there in front of me! It wasn’t even thirty seconds before I was aware of what loomed before me, a tangle of steel structure beckoning me forward into it’s evil grip. Up, up, up! I felt my body lean forward in ridiculous attempt to keep the car from flipping over backwards. Quickly, one at a time, I wiped my sweating palms on my pant legs. I could feel my throat tighten, breaths coming in shallow puffs. Somewhere, sounding far off like in a tunnel, my mother’s voice was speaking, trying to soothe me, encouraging me onwards, but panic pounding in my head like a hammer on an anvil drowned out all the words. My eyes were fixed, unblinking on the top of the bridge. That was all I could see as I ascended. If I could just get to the top, I reasoned, then welcome descent from this death trap, ready to plunge me into the depths of angry water below, would take me back down to earth where safety awaited me.
Even as I just wrote the above paragraph, I felt my breaths growing shallow, just in the frightful memory. Remember, there was not just one, but several bridges in Philadelphia! Obviously I have lived to tell the tale, but I will admit, that very night in our hotel room, I awoke in the early hours with a jolt, a nightmare dropping me into a watery grave from atop that same terrorizing bridge of evil intent. In those short moments of horror I could not think of praying, but someone was indeed wrapping me in prayer. My mother seated next to me, knowing of my terrible fear of high bridges, she was praying for me. She was right there with me. I was not alone.
Two things come to mind in recalling this frightful episode: 1) someone was praying 2) I was not alone. However, if no other person had been in that car, someone else was still praying and someone else was still with me. Romans 8:34 tells us, “For Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.“ Then in Colossians 3:3 we read, “…your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” I find it amazing that Jesus Himself prays for us, pleading for what we need, and He is always with us; our very lives are in Him and He is in God. What better protection can there be!
I suppose we all have a fear we grapple with; something so terrible it seems unsurmountable. A surprise bridge of terror could suddenly appear without warning. Thoughts of having faith fly out the window! My advice from personal experience? Keep your eyes focused on the top, knowing a descent will follow. Stay focused upwards, Jesus is always there no matter what. Our lives are safely kept in Him and He is in the Father. The Holy Spirit is ever teaching, so never stop learning. Comfort and great instruction for living is tucked away in the pages of God’s living Word, so dive in daily and bring to the surface of understanding treasure needed to get through any fear. He will never leave us nor will He ever forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)