My heart hurt for him. Our four year old son, Maddox, desperately wanted to swim, but he was terrified. This was a different child from the confident, excited child that stepped into his grandparent’s pool minutes before and couldn’t wait to get into the pool and swim without floaties. Maddox put his face in the water, kicked his legs, and maneuvered around the pool holding on to one of us. All was well.
Until it was time to let go and launch out on his own. Suddenly Maddox became a different child. He began shaking, holding on to us for dear life-tearfully asking questions like, “Am I going to drown? “ At the mention of letting go and swimming by himself, he would cry, “No, I don’t want to swim!” The happy and excited little boy suddenly became hysterical, scared, and irrational. Fear was in control. As this daily routine continued, my husband would have a pep talk with Maddox. “Who is going to win today, Maddox? Is courage going to win today, or is fear going to win?” But each day repeated the same scenario. Maddox had mastered all of the skills he needed to be able to swim, but his fear would not allow him to let go and enjoy what he desperately wanted to be able to do.
Fear is a thief. It robs us of freedom, happiness and hope. Are there not things in our lives that we desperately want, but we let fear keep us from enjoying? When I look at the women whom God placed in the scriptures as examples for us, I see imperfect women who, even though they were certainly fearful, did not let fear control them. Rahab courageously risked everything in her life to save the Israelite spies. Ruth left her “comfort zone” –everything that had provided her security- to follow God with her mother-in-law. Young Mary had to have been terrified when she was told by an angel that she was with child, yet rejoiced and praised God. Each woman chose to face her future with courage rather than give in to fear. Consider how God rewarded them. They were each in the lineage of the world’s savior- Jesus Christ, all because they refused to let fear rob them of the future God had prepared for them.
God is still rewarding courage that comes from trusting him. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is facing your fear. Courage is standing up for what’s right even though you are afraid. Right now we’re enjoying our fall as Christian girls. What will we do with our time? Will we use it to grow spiritually and courageously do things that will bless our lives in the future? Things like dressing modestly even though we may look different than others? Talking to our friends about Jesus? Attending church camp or youth activities rather than staying in our comfort zone? Accepting leadership roles like leading a devotional?
We all face fears of “being different”. Not fitting in. Being rejected. Failure. Giving in to fear keeps us from growing. It robs us of the life God wants us to live. Living courageously brings freedom. Peace. Joy.
My heart filled with pride and my eyes filled with tears of joy when Maddox finally turned loose of the side of the pool. He is now the happiest child that I have ever seen in a swimming pool. Courage won. He jumps in from the side, swims across, and picks up toys off the bottom. He tells everyone he sees that he is “a swimming machine.” He knows the pure joy of swimming. Fear is gone. Fear cannot stand in the face of courage. Maddox chose courage over fear. If he continues to choose courage in all things, God will bless him with the full, free life he has designed for him.
He will for you too. But there are some choices you must make on your own. I pray you choose courage. Have a fun year, and a courageous life.
2 Timothy 1:7 -“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.”