“Wiz-z-z-z-z ploop”, was the sound I heard as I neared the water’s edge. A man stood several feet from where I was walking with my dog, casting his fishing line into the water. The water was gently splashing against the rocks moments after a group of rowers passed by in their kayaks and I could hear their faint voices bouncing on the wake as it came rolling in. I wondered, as I watched them, if I will ever get over the fear of deep water.
Since I was a little girl, I have had a fear of being in water that is over my head. Because I am only five feet and a couple of inches tall, most water (aside from the bathtub) is over my head. I need to know for certain that at any point, I can put my feet down and feel the ground beneath. Floating on the water would be relaxing if I could get over the fear that I would simply tip over and drown. I have faith, I really do. But the very human part of me often wrestles with fear.
There are many fears that I have overcome in my life. In fact, I can’t even list them all because they have long since been conquered and forgotten. Life is weird and beautiful, isn’t it? I have faced some of my fears and walked away wondering why I was so afraid. I remember learning to ride a bicycle. I was terrified to trust my balance and just two tires. I was also afraid to keep the training wheels on because I was the only seven or eight-year old, that didn’t know how to ride a bike yet. It was embarrassing. I tried many, many times to get it right. I needed to learn because my friends were riding all over the place without me. My dad tried to teach me by holding the bike steady and walking behind me while I pedaled. As soon as it felt like I was balanced, he would let go and…I would tip over. I needed his strong arm to steady me as I rode. But for some reason, I just couldn’t do it on my own. One day, out of frustration, I walked out to the yard and picked up my bike. I stood it up, whipped my leg over and sat on the seat. I just stood there for a little bit with my feet planted on the ground and my hands on the handlebars. I would use my feet to move the bike forward and back just to feel the motion. And for some reason, that day, I decided to try it on my own. I headed down the sidewalk in front of our house and before I knew it, I was on my way! It was as if I had been riding my entire life. And I have never forgotten how.
How many times have you heard someone say, “it’s like riding a bike”? When I hear someone say that, I think back to my bike training and hope that whatever it is, it will be easier than learning to ride a bike. No matter how much I trusted my dad, I just couldn’t ride on without his hand keeping me upright.
In the Bible, Isaiah 41:10, it says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
It would be easy for me to say, just read this and give your fears to God and move along. But that wouldn’t be fair. I may even be thoughtless or, perhaps, cruel. When I read the words, “I will strengthen you and help you”, I must believe that God doesn’t always provide a quick answer or instantly erase our fears. And really, what has been true in my life is that God has given me the strength to face my fears. He has held me upright when I didn’t have the strength to stand on my own. He doesn’t promise that we will not fear. He does promise that he will “help you” through it.
Just like my dad walking with his hand on my bike to steady me, God will walk beside y ou. He will give you the strength that you need to take the next step. As you walk toward that place where you are most vulnerable, his hand will be on you; holding you. And once you have trusted God to walk with you to the other side of fear, pedal on my friend and don’t look back.