How To Face the Future with Courage instead of Fear
The longer I parent, the more parallels I see between my relationships with my kids to my relationship with God.
I took my girls to a farm last week to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather while we still have it. This particular farm is gorgeous – the perfect family outing. Trails wind throughout meadows, a butterfly house is open to explore, and the nature center itself could keep the kids happy for an hour.
But in my opinion the best part of this farm is the enormous playhouse and next to it a man-made creek that the kiddos can play in complete with waterfalls, bridges, and a splash pad. This is a kid's dream.
However, all my kids wanted to do was climb on a rock outside the restrooms. I kept trying to lure them over to the playhouse and beautiful creek, which was beyond the bend just out of sight.
I pleaded. “Come on girls! It’s so cool, I promise!”
I bribed. “Okay girls, seriously, if you come with me, I’ll give you fruit snacks.” (Don’t judge, this isn’t a parenting blog ) All to which they quickly shut me down.
I found myself getting frustrated because they weren’t budging. This mama didn’t get everyone dressed and loaded up in the car to play outside a public restroom.
I heard myself say, “Girls, you have to trust me. I guarantee you will LOVE what is ahead.”
Then it hit me. I wonder if this is how God feels when I refuse to trust him. When I choose to stay in the safe and familiar instead of follow him down a new path.
My little girls had no idea what was just around the bend. All they knew was that it was unfamiliar. And sometimes the unfamiliar just feels too hard and downright scary.
C.S. Lewis explains this perfectly in The Weight of Glory,
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I love this quote. I don’t know about you, but I can totally relate. I love my little comfort zone. Once I find something I like on the menu, I don’t explore other options. When I figure out a way of doing something, I don’t want to learn other ways to do it. Once I choose my lane, I stick to it.
Maybe you are one of those people who thrive on new and unexpected adventure. My husband is that way. The unfamiliar doesn’t scare him. I don’t get this. But in all honestly, I wish I could embrace the unexpected and view the unknown as full of possibilities.
Whether you are like my husband or more like me, content “on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea,” everyone has times when the unknown threatens their sense of security. So I have a little exercise we can all do together.
First, read these verses:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”
“For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”
You guys. Seriously, if you didn’t read the verses above, do it! These are some of my favorite Scripture passages of all time.
Today, I encourage you to engage an exercise of remembrance to help remind your heart to trust him today. Think back to a time when God did something that exceeded anything you could have ever hoped for. Maybe he brought joy out of a painful situation. Maybe he didn’t give you something you prayed for but it ended up being a good thing. Or maybe he just gave you a gift that was beyond your wildest dreams. Write that down.
Now underneath the memory, write some unknowns that feel difficult to trust God with. Is God calling you to step into something unfamiliar? A new job? A different ministry position? A new friendship? A big change in your family? A relocation? Make it a point to pray through those unknowns every day - bringing your request to him while keeping the Scripture above in mind. When we open our hearts to God and to his Word, it changes our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Over 8 years ago, I wrote down quite a few unknowns in my own life. My fiancée (now-my husband) and I were about to be married - we had no jobs, no place to live once we started grad school, and couldn’t afford a honeymoon. I bullet pointed each concern and kept this list in my Bible to pray through whenever I was anxious. And you know what? God answered each and every bullet point. Some bullet points he answered with a “yes.” Others were a “no.” But here is what I learned – the way he worked things out was always better.
God must have known that the human heart would be prone to fear because he offers us so much encouragement, compassion, and tender guidance in his Word. He knows that the unfamiliar has the potential to lead us into anxious thoughts, worry, and panic. And yet, he promises to hold our hand and be with us as he leads us down news paths. Just as I hold the hands of my children as I walk with them into new territory, the Lord does the same with me.
It is not easy to trust God with unknowns around the bend. However, reflecting on his goodness in the past helps us face the future with courage. God is good, and he wants to do good things in your life. Trusting him is a moment-by-moment decision; it’s a life long process. But when we choose to trust him in the moment, overtime our hearts find peace in believing that he has everything under control.
This lesson is one I need to learn over and over again, which is why I dedicate an entire week to the discipline of Trusting God in Habits of the Heart. I kept my list to remind me that God is faithful when I begin to feel afraid of what lies ahead.
So my prayer for you today is this: May God bless you in this very moment with his peace, his promises, and his presence. And may the unknowns around the bend be infinitely better than you could ever ask or imagine – because you choose to walk with God.