The older I get, the more seemingly comfortable I am with my safe, insulated faith. I think something happens to us as we get older and experience more life. The more life we live, the more we’ve been bruised and banged up. Just last week, I was in a car accident. It was snowing hard and fast (I live in Minnesota) and I lost control, headed into oncoming traffic and was hit by a white pick-up. The other driver and I were fine, or so I thought. But I was sore for days afterwards, that kind of pain where you’ve slept funny and you can only turn your head so far. That kind of pain you feel in your shoulders and back the day after a really intense workout. As the snow fell again last night, I caught myself tensing up as I thought about heading out again. Fear had arrived.
Fear grips us after we’ve been hurt. It takes hold of us and if we don’t fight against it, we get used to it. Messages around us talk about security, with home alarm systems, car seat warnings and a news story each week about another fluke accident with a product we should all avoid.
But the Bible tells us over 300 times not to fear, like in Isaiah 41:10: “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.” As I battle my own flavor of fear, I wanted to share a story of risky faith, where comfort is challenged and lives are a little less predictable.
I met Steph over FaceTime. She was bubbly and cute, excited and nervous to share her story. She talked really fast and as her heart exploded over what God’s done, I knew it was a story that needed to be told.
Steph likes her comfort. She’d never been on a missions trip and was quite content with that. She recounts, “I remember telling people I don’t ever want to do missions because I don’t like to sweat.”
When God put India on her heart, she was resistant. The trip was long, costly and it took her farther from home than she’d ever been. As she weighed all the practical reasons not to, she couldn’t shake the sense she was supposed to go. Heart pounding, she headed to India with Back2Back.
“I spent the first few days asking God, “Why am I here?” I’m homesick, I don’t like the food and I’m hot. What’s this about?” Fear was coming. She wanted to run. She buried herself in each day’s activities, hoping to make it through the rest of the trip and counting the hours until she could leave. On her third day, she found herself making tambourines with the kids. And suddenly, she had a sense God was up to something.
The quiet voice behind her made sit up straight. As she turned, she was face to face with a brown-eyed small boy with a beautiful smile spread across his brown cheeks. “Hello,” he said again, “I’m Goutham.”
Steph explains, “As I shook his hand and looked in his eyes, I felt this calm wash over me. I felt God say, “he’s why I brought you.” This whole time I had been looking and when I finally stopped looking and thinking about why He’d brought me here, Goutham walked in.”
Steph spent the next few days getting to know him. As she talks about the experience, her eyes light up. “I work in a school. I’m around 13-year-old boys all the time. But God took me across the world to show me this specific 13-year-old boy.”
Steph made a decision before leaving to become Goutham’s sponsor. She asked him herself if she could be his sponsor and his response was shy. But behind her back, Goutham circled his thumb and index finger to show Back2Back staff Courtney. Steph had been wanting a huge moment, a full-on movie-screen, cue the thematic music moment . But as Goutham is still learning to express himself, this careful boy had shown as much excitement as he knew how. Courtney had been working with the children to express their emotions and this specific symbol meant he was beyond excited. This small circle showed, in his way, that he was just as excited as Steph.
Steph didn’t expect the trip to change her the way it did. She made a connection with a boy half way across the world because she said yes when God said go. It was risky, and it caused her to leave a piece of her in India.
Steph shared, “I think God used Goutham to say to me I know what your heart wants, but even more I know what it needs and what will make you grow and chase after me even more. And right now, it’s going to be this boy who lives across the world. When you’re sad and your heart hurts for him, talk to me about it. God broke down walls for me to know it’s ok to say yes even when I don’t know the outcome. He is showing me He’s trustworthy with my heart.”
I sometimes wonder what we miss out on in those times of fear. What if Steph hadn’t gone to India? What if I hadn’t gotten back in a car after that accident? I believe God uses everything around us to tell a story. We just get to decide whether we want to step into His plans versus our own. Following Him isn’t safe and secure. But it’s a much more beautiful story that anything we could write on our own.
If there’s something God is putting on your heart today, even if it’s just a small nudge, step into it. If fear is holding you back, talk to Him about it. Let’s commit to listening for the subtle, quiet nudge.
Today, I’ll step back into the car and go out once again. Steph is going to continue to write, pray for and sponsor a boy she met even though she has no idea when she’ll see him again. Let’s squash fear together. And instead, let’s say yes to the story God is writing, even if scares the daylights out of us.