“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
I have never considered myself a brave person. Rather, I am quite fearful of many things that others do easily and naturally. When I was four, my parents allowed me to quit swimming lessons because I was afraid. During class trips to amusement parks, I held my friends’ bags while they rode all of the rides because I was afraid. I didn’t test for my driver’s license until 12th grade because I was afraid. And I have turned down amazing opportunities and adventures because I was afraid.
As I grew older, this persistent fear and anxiety just became a part of me, no different than my curly hair or silly laugh — just something that was always there that I didn’t give much thought. And yet, more recently, I have been thinking about this fear and what it has meant in my life.
I have been thinking of all the times I have said no, simply because I was afraid. And then about six months ago, I did something that is extremely out of character for me — I said yes.
I said yes to the opportunity of a lifetime. I said yes to traveling with my best friends to the place I have most wanted to visit my whole life. So in less than two weeks, I will be doing something I never thought I would do. I will board an international flight to London and spend the week visiting all of the places that I have only dreamed about.
I will see the sites that I teach about in my British Literature classes. I will stand in the places where Chaucer, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley once stood. I will immerse myself in the culture and history of the place I have loved so deeply from afar. Most importantly, I will begin to change my life, one yes at a time.
God does not want us to live lives of fear. He does not want us to stand aside and watch others live full lives. Rather, he wants us to use this gift he has given us fully. He wants us to experience the beauty and majesty of his creation.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ” (4:6-7).