A few years ago, my parents had the opportunity to go on a boating trip with some friends. They were going down to Mexico, sailing around, and then spending some time on the beach. Fun! About a week before they left, I was talking with my husband about their trip.
My parents. I love them so much! // Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
“I hope everything goes ok for them.” I said, anxiety clinging to my voice like sand in your hair; unwelcome but impossible to get out.
“Yeah… I’m sure it will. What are you worried about?” Scott asked.
“Well, like, I hope they don’t get lost at sea or anything.” I’m totally serious at this point.
Scott starts laughing. “They’re not gonna get lost at sea! I was thinking ‘yeah I hope they don’t get sunburned.’ And your mind jumps to ‘getting lost at sea’. “
He pointed out all of the navigational technology they would have, the experience their friends have sailing, and the close proximity they would share with land. I laughed with him because when he put it that way, my fears did seem a little over dramatic. That’s me though. A worry-wart.
I do it with everything. My family laughs at me because, to say that I err on the side of caution would be an understatement. I err on the farthest side of caution available. I live on the side that’s away from the edge, holding on to the railing with a life vest on. And a safety whistle around my neck. And maybe a few gallons of water and canned goods stowed away just in case. Those Y2Kers got it right.
In my mind, everything is a choking hazard, accidents can and will happen, and I’m constantly thinking ahead to the worst-case scenario. Forget sunburns! The risks of boating are far greater than that in my book! Someone call the coast guard!
I know that this is no way to live. I know that most of my fears are completely irrational and almost implausible but I just have a hard time convincing myself of that fact. If I’m being vulnerable, I would have to tell you that I live in fear. A lot.
My mind wanders and runs away with itself at times, like Little Red Riding Hood being chased by the Big Bad Wolf. I can’t stop my imagination from tripping down the stairs to land in a crumpled heap at the worst-case scenario. I have a hard time taking my thoughts captive as scripture challenges us to do. So you would think that I am the last person to write to you about peace. And I am, in my own strength. Thanks be to God though for His provision once again.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” 1 John 4:18 (NIV)
The key to kicking out fear, is a revelation of God’s love! My anxiety takes root when my heart’s revelation of His love is shallow. Like fungus thrives in stagnant, shallow waters, fear finds a home in a heart that has only a puddle of knowledge of the Lord’s love.
In actuality, His love is deep. Deeper than anything we could imagine.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” Ephesians 3: 17b-18 (NIV)
Not only is it deep but it’s wide and long and high and any other large unit of measurement you could think of. His love is meant to be poured over us until the bathtub is overflowing. It’s meant to be dumped in a deluge and sprayed like a power washer until that sticky fear can’t hold on anymore; like a band-aid that loses it’s sticky-ness in the swimming pool.
My frantic heart needs this. On the days that I fear the most, I’ve found that I have to seek Him more. I have to take the time to talk with Him.
In those moments, when the realities of the world swirl around me like a nightmare, when fear’s fingernails are digging in and all I can see is my runaway imagination, He speaks. He tells me of His love for me, that His plans for me are good, and that even if my worst nightmare comes true, He’ll still be there, loving me deeply. His words fall like raindrops and one by one, they fill my heart’s tank.
He pulls me away from the railing I’m clinging to and offers me His hand instead. He looks at my life vest, the big and puffy and restrictive one strapped tight around my heart, the one that’s bright orange and screams, “I am afraid!” and says, “My girl, don’t you know that I’ve given you life to the full? Don’t you know that you can take this off? You won’t drown with me, you can swim and soak and walk on water.”
My husband Scott and my nephew Caden boating on vacation a few years ago. // Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
So I get in. His love surrounds me, and in it, I am weightless. I can float, not because of the life vest, long forgotten on the deck of the boat. No, I float because His right hand upholds me.
This isn’t a one-time thing or a quick fix. Like taking a bath, I must do this daily but when I do, I am refreshed and better, a fragrance of His love to the world.
Fear dwells in the shallow end. But the love of Jesus is high and deep and wide and long and far and great. Suddenly, the deep end doesn’t seem so scary anymore.