He approaches the steep blue slide with excitement and gusto. The same slide that we went down together a few weeks ago only to have him cling to me and cry out in fear as we dropped to the bottom. I have never seen Ben go down a slide by himself, let alone this massive one. “Are you going to go down it?”
“Yes!” His answer is definitive and with confidence he takes his place at the top.
I grab my phone and snap a picture.
This is courage.
Now it’s my turn. I am sitting at the top of my own slide. The slide I dread: Change. Inching forward, preparing for the drop, my heart races, my palms sweat, and I wonder: Is this a good idea?
Two weeks ago I finished working at Scum of the Earth Church because we are preparing to move to Minnesota. The move I prayed for, cried for, ached for is coming. I think of being with our sisters and brothers, our parents and grandparents, our friends once again and my soul is thrilled. But I think of all that we will leave behind and I am scared.
What if this is a bad decision?
Instead of seeking employment right away, I have decided to pursue writing and speaking as a ministry. A new website is in the works (www.LeahDEverson.com – oh my word, really?!) and I continue working on my first book proposal. I have invested time, energy, and money into developing this gift I’m told I have. But fear tingles in my fingers and sinks into my gut as I sit down to write. I worry about rejection. Failure. Ridicule.
What if I’m not good enough?
Driving to church on Sunday, Jack burst into tears. “I don’t want to move to Minnesota. I don’t want to be away from Finn.” My heart breaks for him as I think of all of the friends who themselves have moved away and now he is the one saying the big goodbye.
Are we crazy to make this change?
Are we going to be ok?
Am I going to be ok?
Before the anxiety hit, before the reality of the move set in, I prayed over the year asking God, “What do you have for me this year? Change is coming. And it’s bigger than I can even realize. What do you want this time to look like for me?”
One word: Courage.
Webster’s defines courage as: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Yes. Fear. The fear that creeps into my soul, squeezes my heart cold as I will myself to courage. Be courageous! But how?
Desperate, I pull out my Bible and find the only verse I can think of that uses the word.
“Be strong and courageous.” The phrase is repeated three times in Joshua 1 as God’s people prepare to enter the promised the land. They too face change, uncertainty, risk, and most definitely fear. In order to reinforce his call, God tells them over and over again, “Be strong and courageous.” Why? “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
As He states over and over and over again in the Bible, God promises his people here, “I will be with you.”
God will be with you in the pain. He will be with you in the uncertainty. He will be with you in the loss of the job, the late night colic, the death of a loved one, and the move of a lifetime. In those fears and anxieties you think you can never face down, He repeats these words “Be strong and courageous… for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I cling to them like a lifeline.
The past two weeks I have been struggling to write these words – or anything at all – because fear has gripped me. Fear of failure. Fear of missed calling. Fear of rejection, shame. I have reached out to others for prayer all the while feeling that my fears are right. I am not cut out for this. My dreams are fantasies. My sense of calling is a lie. But in the midst of my doubt, I have sensed a steadiness growing in my soul. “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. For I am with you.”
I cannot write alone. I cannot move “home” alone. I cannot parent alone, be a faithful spouse alone, or even clean the house alone. Every step of the way I am dependent on the One who gave Himself for me. Thank God He has promised to be with me.
And so, trusting God’s faithful love – and firm grip around my soul – I lean forward… to drop down the slide.
(More coming soon.)