For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Maybe you tried a new sport or a new kind of food. Maybe you attempted to speak a different language in a country you’d never visited before. Do you enjoy trying new things or do you prefer life to be predictable?
Researchers at Stanford University have studied the probability of people changing their minds. It probably won’t surprise you that they’ve discovered it’s a lot easier for children to change their minds than it is for adults. For example, they’ve found that if you don’t try sushi before the age of thirty-five, there’s only a 5% chance you’ll try it later in life.
This is also true when it comes to our choice in music. In fact, if you’re not listening to a certain style music by the time you’re in your late 20s, there’s a 95% chance you’re never going to. Our window for trying new things is wide open as children, but closes as we get older. (Freakonomics Radio, May 29, 2019)
I wish I could ask the researchers these three questions:
What if we allow children to influence our courage to try new things?
What if we let a younger generation lead the way as we face our fears?
How does love impact our ability to change as adults?
I’ve always been afraid of heights, but when my children pleaded with me to zip-line through the jungles of Costa Rica or jump off cliffs into Lake Powell, I faced my fears and leapt. Yes, I screamed to whole way, but my love for them was great enough to overcome my fear of heights. Plus, I didn’t want to look like a chicken. Once in the water or on the other side of the jungle, elation flooded my changed mind.
Another time, while bobbing in choppy waves under dark skies, I tried to swallow my rising fear as I practiced breathing in and out through a scuba diving regulator. I mentally reviewed the list of “do’s and don’ts” I’d learned with my kids in our training lesson. I wondered how in the world I’d passed that morning’s certification test, given that I’d almost had a panic attack in the calm waters of a swimming pool. Now, bobbing out in the open water, my family grabbed a rope that led them down fifty feet to the ocean floor. As my turn approached, I knew I needed much more than their love to face my rising fear. I looked up to the sky and prayed, “Jesus, I need you. I’m so afraid.”
Right then my scuba diving instructor grabbed my ankle and pulled me under the water… not exactly the answer to prayer I was hoping for. I continued to pray with each breath. When I finally arrived at the bottom of the rope, I held onto a metal ring and refused to let go. While everyone else swam off to explore, our dive instructor returned to me. He must have noticed either my white knuckles or fearful eyes, because he gently reached out and pried my fingers from the ring and placed them on his right forearm. Off we swam, diving even deeper. I didn’t notice any of the colorful fish or coral around us, because I kept my eyes fixed on his forearm and continued to pray.
For some reason, I remembered Isaiah 41:13, For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” I thanked God for the right hand he’d provided for me out in the deep.
The next thing I knew, my guide waved his other hand and pointed to something on the ocean floor. For the first time, I took my eyes off his arm. Unbelievable! I stared at a huge stone cross, with Jesus’ body carved out of it, sitting on the white sand. I let go of his arm, reached inside my wetsuit, and pulled out my silver cross necklace. When he gave me a double thumbs up, I realized I was swimming alone.
Seeing Jesus displaced my fear, replacing it with joy.
I now believe we’re never too old for faith and love to change our minds and help us overcome our fears. God continues to challenge us to change throughout our entire lives.
The next time you’re given an opportunity to try something new, give thanks to God that you’re not alone, grab His right hand, and let His help displace your fears. Yes, believe you can take the leap or dive deep with Jesus, your Prince of Peace who is likely to show up in the most unusual places… when you step out in faith.
3 O’Clock Circle - Two or more together sharing real life and relevant faith.
Read this week’s blog or listen to our podcast. Then discuss these 3 questions in your circle.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Share your story.
What fears do you need to face in this season of your life?
Where has God shown up for you in the past? If you face your fears, do you believe He’ll show up again?
If you have any questions about our 3 O’Clock Circles, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Everyone – Every Nation – Every Day Thanking God at 3:00pm