I hate bees. There I have said it. I understand that they have an important role in the earth’s ecosystem and we cannot live without them. Somehow, though, I can never watch enough documentaries about their necessity to negate one small fact – they can sting you. As a child, this hatred turned into a paralyzing fear and a family drama on more than one occasion. To this day, I am still reminded about the time I sat in the car the entire time my family was enjoying the beach because of a certain bush at the entrance to the beach that was infested with a swarm of deadly bees or so I thought. Years later, when I thought I had finally overcome the dread of that nastiest of flying insects, I actually swallowed one of their cousins – a wasp – while I was drinking ice tea. It is amazing that the incident didn’t ruin my delight in one of my favorite drinks.
There are a lot of things in life much worse that bees that are legitimate reasons for fear; earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes come to mind. Yet, those things are not what we fret about and what really keep us up at night. More often than not we can’t sleep because of worry. Worry over unpaid bills, worry about a test, worry about a job interview, worry about a relationship; worry about just about anything. Worry is so pervasive in our lives, that I once heard the phrase, “Why pray when you can worry?” It is an easy fallback position for most of us and can be terribly immobilizing. Many a great idea never got off the ground because of worry over the potential obstacles involved in implementing the dream.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, I am reminded of the power of belief to overcome fear. My mother always believed in me – no matter what. She prayed me through many a childhood fear and still prays for me to this day. That simple belief in me was enough to help me make it through boarding school in seventh grade, to deal with being “height challenged” in high school, and to move away from home at the age of fifteen so that I could get a better education.
Her belief in me was a powerful motivation, but it was not enough. No matter how much she prayed for me, wrote letters, called or visited when we were apart, I still dealt with nagging fears as I grew up. I needed something stronger to believe in that would be my sustaining anchor in the storms I would face as I moved into adulthood. The best gift my mother ever gave me was a deep abiding faith in her Lord Jesus Christ. I saw how much He meant to her and I knew I needed Him too.
Her belief became mine. I understood once and for all that the fears and anxiety would probably never completely go away. Instead, I would have a comforter that would never leave nor forsake me – no matter what. Today, I have traveled to many places that terrified me even to think about as a child. I have become a public speaker and writer even though I used to hate writing papers and presenting in class. I have dealt with untold heartache in the lives of others as I have led my organization and worked in my local church. I even quit a job to become a missionary just like my mom. In all of these scary circumstances, I have known the constant presence of the one who made me and sent His son to die for me.
As I head to Korea this week for another round of facing fears – did I not mention my aversion to strange foods – I go with the words of a familiar hymn in my mind:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives
and one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
2nd Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (KJV)