“Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Be. Not. Afraid. Growing up, we all have our security blankets. Whether it’s a literal blanket that we carry around, or maybe a parent or a sibling, we all feel a constant need to feel safe, comfortable – in control. For me, my security blanket was my family. I was extremely blessed to have two very Godly men as my role models in my Grandfather and Father. I spent countless hours playing catch with my Dad, and spent days doing nothing but playing games with my Grandpa. I’ve taken trips to hardware stores, banks, and more notably – carwashes. See, my Grandpa had this old 90’s blue pickup truck with a black topper on the back; I can still see it like it was yesterday. Well, he would go to the carwash, all us kids would pile in the back of the pickup so we could watch the water as it hit the windows. And I remember, going through the wash, water would begin to spill into the bed of the truck through the bottom of the topper. We would all scream and scream and bang on the windows, telling my Grandpa to stop (this was one of the self-use power sprayers). He just smiled, whistled and kept on his way pretending like he’d forgotten all about us. We all just screamed with glee – no fear, just carefree abandon because we knew that my Grandpa was in control.
I think we often forget that, just as my Grandpa was in control that day, we always have a heavenly (Grand)Father who is in control of our lives at all times. I know for me, two weeks prior to this trip, the reality really started to set in, and with it came all of the fear and anxiety. Fear of not fitting in and having a place with the team, fear of leaving the country for the first time, simply put – fear of the unknown. For months and months this was just a date on my calendar and suddenly it was becoming real. I started having minor panic attacks, couldn’t sleep; I felt so overwhelmed. I didn’t have any control, I no longer had my security blanket.
Luckily, we serve a God that knows us intimately, and knows our every need. Jesus reminds us in Luke chapter 11 that we need only “seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened to us”. As I prayed and countless others prayed over me in preparation for this trip, I felt like my anxiety couldn’t be overcome. But I continued to seek, and I continued to knock, and boy was he faithful to his word.
As I said before, my Grandpa has always played a huge role in my life. And in the past ten years or so as his health was beginning to fade I got the idea to get a tattoo of a cross with his birth year and death year on my shoulder when he passed away. For a long time, that day seemed like it would never come, but eventually his health gave out and he passed away in May. I immediately started thinking of my design, and I really wanted to incorporate a scripture. For some reason, the verse Joshua 1:9 kept coming to mind. It was God’s reassurance to Joshua as he took over for Moses that he needn’t be afraid – he just had to trust in God. God would be his security blanket. Just like my Grandpa with the sprayer, Joshua could take comfort in the fact that his heavenly Father promised to be in control.
Now, I’m not normally a reader – I think the last time I finished a whole book without the help of spark notes was my Freshman year of High School. But I also know that I can’t sleep on flights and I didn’t want to waste a 14-hour flight watching movies and likely getting motion sickness. So I decided I would take on the challenge and read an entire book by the time our flight landed in Dubai. As I was scrolling social media, I had seen a friend reading a book by Bob Goff called “Everyone Always”. I had seen lots of his TED talks and loved his message, so I figured it would probably be a good bet. It’s funny how what we often times view as a subconscious decision, God has as a major part of his plan – this book was a perfect example. I was immediately drawn in by his description of living an authentic life of love. It was as if every thought floating in my head that felt trapped and inexplicable was right on the pages in front of me. Story after story, I read of what true Christ-like love looks like, and witnessed an example of an authenticity that I’d never seen before.
People describe “God moments” in a number of different ways. Some hear an audible voice. Others describe a calmness coming over them. For me, my God moment was three words: Be. Not. Afraid. As I read those words, tears instantly began streaming down my face. It was as if my Grandpa was right there with me, at the start of this new unknown journey – God had given me my security blanket.
Fear is an interesting concept in our society. When we hear that word, we often think about scary movies or being frightened, but it’s so much more complex than that. We fear failure. We fear rejection. We fear love. We fear one another. It’s almost ironic if you step away from it – we live in a society that covets control and yet we let fear control our entire life. How often do we let fear stop us from living out a Christ-like life? Instead we resort to keep our head down, drive from work to home without making any eye contact with anyone because Lord forbid we look at them the wrong way or maybe even exchange a smile. You always hear that we should make it less about Religion and more about Relationship, but that has never been more clear than my time here in Ethiopia. Living a Christ-like life is really quite simple when you boil it down – it’s about love. Jesus lays it out perfectly in John, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Be. Not. Afraid. As you read this post and go out about the rest of your week, I encourage you to remember those three words. Remember that we are called to love, and no matter where you are, you always have your ultimate security blanket with you; even all the way in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“One day you’ll make sense of it all, Jesus. One day every question resolved. Every anxious thought left behind. Not more fear. When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.”