A few weeks ago, I went for a trail run in a local neighborhood park that covers a vast area of the Santa Monica mountains. This place feels so magical with miles and miles of trails, hidden caves, powerful waterfalls, and bubbling creeks. I chose a random path that winds up the mountain side—unmarked and off the beaten path.
I made it a mile or two on this trail before I was almost stopped dead in my tracks by a horrifying thought: mountain lions. My heart started racing, and it wasn’t because of the steep incline. So I picked up a rock— okay, a small boulder— and began again, but much faster this time. I circulated through all the possible scenarios: if it comes at me from the front, I can throw the rock at it before it reaches me; it if comes at me from the back, I can hit it over the head with a rock. I estimated its size, strength, and speed. I swear just my thoughts were loud enough to get the attention of any mountain lion in a five mile radius.
So there I was, running through the hills of this park, looking like an absolute lunatic with a rock in my hand armed to kill. I set my eyes on the summit of the trail and chose that as my halfway point to turn around. Heart still coursing with adrenaline, I reach the top and stopped dead in my tracks— not because of a mountain lion, but because of the beauty around me and the humorous reality of the situation. I dropped my weapon and almost dropped to my knees in this sobering moment: I allowed fear to take me.
When fear takes you, it runs and doesn’t let go so easy. Fear grips you, paralyzes you, hits you in your most vulnerable spot. Fear puts blinders on your eyes so you miss the beauty all around you.
I missed so much of the beauty on that trail because fear took hold of me and only let me see a mountain lion ready to attack. I also missed so much beauty in this last season of my life because fear gripped my heart and only let me see the monsters in the closet, the wild things lurking around the bend, the demons that haunted me.
But like the mountain lion, they didn’t even exist yet; they were only shadows, wisps of smoke in the recesses of my mind. Now, I know very little about the psychological explanation of fear and the inner workings of the human brain, but I have walked God’s good earth for 22 years, so I do know a bit about the inner workings of the human heart.
We want to know things. We want to be prepared for what’s around the bend. We want to be in control of our future, not subject to the will of a mysterious God who rules the cosmos. We want to know so that we can plan, train, prepare, and save. We want to know so we may be comfortable. But isn’t letting fear take us to those points of desperation, like being armed with a rock or a biting tongue, letting fear win, letting our desire for control and foreknowledge and comfort be greater than our trust in God’s provision?
If I sacrifice my own desire for control and foreknowledge, then “it is God who works in me to will and to act in order to fulfill His purpose.” (Philippians 2:13). If I live in His promises, trusting in His provision, I’m free to enjoy the beauty of His goodness all around me instead of being gripped by fear. I want to fight fear like David. I want to trust that if I am faced with a Goliath, or in my case, a mountain lion, that God has equipped me. David’s time as a shepherd prepared him for battle because “God had saved him from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear” (1 Samuel 17:37). Do you trust that God has equipped you to face any fear?
What if we take Him at face value when He said “therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Matthew6:25)? What if we really did “cast all our anxiety on Him” and choose His way, “for His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 11:30)?
What if we didn’t let our fear of the monsters and mountain lions and demons weight us down like shackles or blind us, but instead we chose to trust Him, to trust that if the lion comes, if we face Goliath, if we lose something precious to us, that He will fulfill His promises?
He will equip us. He will do a good work through us. He will be our portion, our breastplate, our stone, our word, our provision. When we choose Him, we are freed from fear, and freed to enjoy the beauty around us. We must trust like Paul trusted: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
When I was a young girl, I was out in a field at our farm in the hill country of Texas. I ran up to my mother yelling, “Mama! Mama! Look what I found! A worm with a face!” Turns out it was a copperhead snake. Lord, I pray for that childlike fearlessness when facing life. I pray the snake will be a worm, the mountain will be a hill, the mountain lion will be a puppy, and my demons will be but shadows on the wall. Help me fear less Lord, so that I may trust You more.
- Katy // @katethegrate_ful