On Fear and Faith


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. –Isaiah 41:10 NIV

For the past couple of months, I’ve been working through Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study Breathe.

And I’ve been forced to confront myself.

That may sound strange, but there are things about ourselves we don’t see, things we don’t want to see, things we see but aren’t ready to deal with.

Take fear, for instance.

Now I believe I’m a person of strong faith and thus have not addressed or acknowledged fear. Before this Bible study, I would have said I have no fears. Except bathophobia (fear of deep water), acrophobia (fear of heights), and claustrophobia (fear of being trapped in a small space).

This footlog was wider than some of the others we crossed. (October 2015, Smoky Mountains National Park)

Over the past few years, I’ve conquered some of those fears. I’ve learned to swim in deep water, stepped across narrow footlogs, ridden a ski lift up a mountain, and enjoyed the view 175 feet above Elliott Bay in Seattle on the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast. Granted I rode in an enclosed gondola, but there was a time I wouldn’t have even considered an enclosed car, which would have spiked not only my acrophobia but also my claustrophobia.

While I’ve dealt with lots of fears over my lifetime, there’s one I never realized existed until recently. Well, maybe I knew it was there, but I shoved it down deep and refused to acknowledge it existed.

What is that fear?

The fear my dreams will never come true.

The dream of my husband retiring. The dream of traveling with him in our fifth wheel camper without having to worry about time or money.

The dream of a speaking ministry in which my husband and I work together. I have a glimpse of what this can be like, as he’s travelled with me to several speaking engagements.

The dream of becoming a well-selling author of fiction. Best-selling would be nice, but I’ll settle for well-selling. Right now, I’m lucky to break even on the books I write and publish as an independent author-publisher.

Fear that writing fiction isn’t God’s will for me. I’ve asked God to take the desire to write fiction out of my heart if that isn’t what He wants for me. Yet when I think about not writing fiction, instead of peace, I experience sadness and grief.

I keep praying, “God, take the desire to write fiction out of my heart if that isn’t Your will for me,” waiting for God to do it. Yet He has not removed it from my heart. I still love writing fiction.

It isn’t that He hasn’t answered my prayer, but that He has and I didn’t see it.

Have you ever done that?—Prayed a prayer and didn’t see the answer because you were expecting something else? You were looking for a “no” and God was shouting His “yes!”

Can what I want so badly be exactly what God wants for me? I’m still wrapping my mind and heart around this.

The key is wanting what God wants more than what I want. Asking God to give me the desires of my heart—to place His desires in my heart and remove my desires so that I’m on the same page God is.

It’s as simple as A,B, C—Accepting His answer, Believing the dreams He has placed in my heart will come true, and Confidently stepping into the plans He has just for me.

When I wrestle with fear and doubt, O God, give me the strength to overcome and to pursue the plans You have for me with confident assurance and joy. Amen.

Scripture to meditate on:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

The Lord will work out his plans for my life. –Psalm 138:8

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. –Hebrews 10:35–36

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Romans 15:13

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Semper Paratus

This display is comprised of gloves used by the smokejumpers.

Always be ready! —Matthew 25:13 CEV

One of the highlights of our month-long trip to the Pacific Northwest this past summer was touring the North Cascades Smokejumper Base in Winthrop, Washington.

These amazing firefighters, who parachute into remote areas to combat wildfires, must be ready at all times to respond quickly and efficiently. When the air horn sounds, they have two minutes to suit up in their gear, which includes pants, jacket, harness, reserve parachute, main parachute, helmet, gloves, and personal fire pack. Their goal is to be in the air, en route to the fire, within 15 minutes of being dispatched.

The key is to always be ready.

Their suits hang in the parachute loft in such a way that all they have to do is back into them. Parachutes, paracargo (supplies dropped from the aircraft via parachute), personal gear bags, and 100-pound backpacks are all ready to go.

The smokejumpers are semper paratus—always ready.

Semper paratus, the motto of the US Coast Guard, would be a good motto for each of us. Because we need to be always ready for anything, planned or unplanned, that drops itself in our laps.

While I love serendipity and spontaneity—they add excitement and fun to life—they are the exception, rather than the rule. I need order and organization. They are my keys to survival. Without them, chaos reigns. And with chaos come stress, anxiety, worry, waste of time and resources, and, often, disaster.

This coming Saturday our house will be filled with family gathering together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Eleven people, ranging in age from seven to 68, and two dogs (including Tucker, the hyperactive pup who chews everything in sight), will spend the weekend under our roof and share a Thanksgiving meal.

This takes planning—from meals to snacks to who sleeps where to games to bathroom time to keeping Tucker out of trouble.

When the first car drives up, I have to be ready.

This involves lots of planning, preparing, and praying.

I’ve made lists of things to do, groceries to buy, who will prepare and bring what dishes. I’ve scheduled which rooms to clean on which days next week.

Once my plans are in place, it’s time to begin preparing.

Sometimes the unexpected upends the whole apple cart. “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (Robert Burns). Then what? I go to Plan B. If that doesn’t work, Plan C.

If all else fails, I pray.

But prayer isn’t last-minute grasping at straws when things go wrong. It’s a part of every phase of semper paratus. Pray when you plan. Pray as you prepare. But most important, pray ahead. You don’t know what the day will bring.

I pray ahead every morning when I wake up. Before I even throw back the covers, I ask God for wisdom and discernment, for guidance in the problems I’ll face and the decisions I’ll make. I don’t know what those problems and decisions will be. But God does.

I need God beside me, every moment of the day, for the big things and the little things. Without Him, all my plans and preparations come to naught.

What about you—are you always ready for what’s on your agenda? For the unpredictable?

Are you semper paratus?

Help me, Omniscient Father, to be always ready for anything that will come my way. Help me to plan and to prepare for the expected and the unexpected. Only with Your help can I navigate the unpredictable waters of life. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25:1–13

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.