This past weekend, my family and I escaped to a cabin in the woods for a little rest, relaxation and frankly, we were in need of a change of scenery. As with everyone these days, added stress from multiple sources has taken its toll on us and we needed something to look forward to so a few weeks ago we quickly booked a cabin in a West Virginia State park.
Preparing to travel with a family of 6 is no small feat. There was laundry that needed to be done, meals to be planned, food to be packed, preparations to be made for the dog and chickens, and the list went on. I felt the pressure rise as the day of departure drew close but I was excited and kept reminding myself that it would be worth the effort. But then I looked at the map to get there. The weavy, windy mountain roads for some may look like an opportunity to take in God’s beauty and have an adventure along the journey. For others of us, AKA this girl right here, weavy, windy mountain roads can cause straight up panic. Not panic because I’m scared of the roads but panic because I get carsick! And unfortunately, I have passed that trait on to my children. Yuck!
I immediately went into solution mode and thought through the strategies I could do to prevent my children and I from getting sick. I started to feel a little better, my breathing slowed and the excitement started to override the anxiety over sickness. But then I looked at the weather! Yikes! A snowstorm on top of weavy, windy roads was about all I could handle!
The day before we left, I fretted and fretted over what we should do. Should we go and risk sickness and getting stuck in the snow and my worst, pretty illogical fear, sliding off the side of a mountain and all of us falling to our deaths, or do we stay home, in the safety and warmth of our own home?
In my worry, I went to the Lord with my fears, asking Him what to do. Silence. No impression, no nudge, just silence. I was frustrated and fearful and I wanted God to give me a clear answer. Time was ticking! But He didn’t.
Instead of a clear word from God, He did lead me to some pretty wise counsel – my husband and my dear friend. I expressed my fear and concern to both of them separately and both encouraged me to not allow my fear to push me around. Both encouraged me to give my fear over into the mighty hands of God and move forward into an adventure with my family for the weekend.
I’m so thankful for my people who not only hear me, but speak truth in love.
So we headed for the mountains with a truck load of stuff and hearts ready for respite. It was cold and snowy but our cabin was filled with laughter, board games, chip eating, hot chocolate drinking and precious family time.
We headed out Saturday morning for a snowy hike. We were deep in the woods when we noticed tracks on the trail. Not human tracks but animal. Bobcat. Pre-kids I would have felt excitement at finding these tracks but now with four little ones, I felt fear creep up. Phillip assured me that bobcats were skittish and we shouldn’t be concerned so we kept walking but then we stumbled upon an area that had been freshly disturbed by a bear. Umm, that’s a little more legit than a bobcat! Fresh claw marks through the dirt, overturned leaves and brush had my heart quickening. Again, I went into a panicky mode of envisioning my entire family mauled and killed by a ferocious bear. My children all looked at me with fear in their eyes. I looked at Phillip hoping he would say that we should turn back. Instead he said, “You can’t let fear stop you!” So we pressed on. We reached the top and it was breathtaking.
It was well worth walking through the fear to get to the other side where beauty awaited.
So much about life is like this. God leads us on an adventure, inevitably fear lurks in the corner and at just the right moment, it rears its ugly head and comes face to face with you. The question is – what do we do when that fear is causing us to have the deer in the headlights feeling?
Fear is an emotion that God gave us so it is not all bad. Fear can prevent you from harm. It can prevent you from doing something risky. But fear can also paralyze you and keep you from moving forward. Emily P. Freeman, one of my favorite podcast hosts says it well, “Emotions can have a seat at the table. They just aren’t allowed to sit at the head.”
In both my experiences over the weekend, I was not just allowing fear to sit at my table, I was allowing fear to be the head.
I want no part of that.
In both cases, if I had let fear be at the head and be the loudest voice in the room, I would have missed out on the adventure that God had in store for me, for our family and for my walk with Him. I would have missed the cozy warmth of the cabin surrounded by those I love most and I would have missed the glorious view from the mountain top. Both of which were experiences that drew me closer to my Lord.
Has fear taken the head place at your table? The fear that lingers, that causes you to go into the dark rabbit hole of “what if’s,” the fear that keeps you stuck and unable to move forward does not deserve the head seat at the table.
I’m learning that when fear does creep up, it’s important for me to acknowledge its presence. It’s important for me to assess if it’s at the head of my table with the loudest voice in the room. But it’s most important for me then to hand it over to the Lord. He is the one in control. He is the one who sees all and knows all. He is the one who can handle my fear. He is the one who can help me put that fear in its rightful place. If I don’t, I may miss the adventure God has in store for me that day. I may never see the beauty on the other side that He has waiting for me.
When we turned to go back down the trail, although fear was still at the table, my love of my creator was the loudest voice in the room. In fact, it was the loudest voice in the forest. We sang every worship song we could think of at the top of our lungs. If that bear was going to maul my family, I was first going to sing it the soul saving message of Jesus! We got to the bottom and my oldest remarked, “Wow, singing made that so much better.” Yes, my dear child, praising our Lord makes everything better.
“I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know. Stay in communication with Me. Follow My guiding Presence” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling).
God, may I trust you with my fear and in my fear. May I follow your guiding presence for the adventure you have for me today.