“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” — Isaiah 41:10, 13
Summer break has begun, and my freshman year at college has come to an end. And while this very thing is a cause for joy and celebration to many other students, I find that it has mostly been a cause of fear and trepidation in my own heart.
College has had a wonderful impact on my life. The Bible classes, the daily influence of Godly instructors and likeminded friends, the preaching in chapel and church six days out of the week… it’s been an environment encouraging so much growth. Through the school year, I’ve surrendered to the Lord, giving Him piece after piece of myself; I’ve learned to fight the flesh and walk in the Spirit. God has taught me to pray. The Holy Spirit has put a desire for separation within my soul. He’s shown me how to love people with His power… yet I’ve been afraid. Terrified, even. Why? Because I’m afraid that the minute I step through my front door, the moment I officially leave the shelter of my campus, that I will fail. That every change I’ve made for the cause of Christ will evaporate. Explode. Be utterly in vain.
I shared these fears with a friend at school just before I left. He’d asked if I was excited about summer break, and I’d admitted that I wasn’t. I explained why. His response was a wakeup call: “You know, you’re right. You will fail. You’re weak; you can’t do anything on your own. It’s only God who can keep you from failing.” He was so right… but I had trouble getting that knowledge from my head to my heart.
Then this afternoon, a simple moment with my four-year-old sister hit the message home to me. We were taking some family pictures this afternoon, and I had to lift her up to sit on a railing. She was tense and nervous– it was a long way down for such a little girl, were she to fall. I put my left hand on her back, and my right hand I rested on her leg. I noticed she relaxed; I asked her, “Are you scared?” She looked up at me, and very matter-of-factly replied “Nope!”. She wasn’t afraid because she felt my presence. She knew I was right there, and that I wouldn’t let her fall.
Through all my fear, I’ve been very selfish. “I can’t do this!” “How can I make this work?” “I’m just going to fail.” My focus was drawn so far inward that I failed to notice that my Heavenly Father was standing right beside me, offering His hand of strength and support to me.
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry the in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” -Isaiah 40:11-12,29
If God can hold the oceans in the hollow of His hand, He can certainly manage to support me. If He can weigh and balance the mountains, He can surely give me some of His own strength. The Lord has turned my fear into peace. I know that He that hath begun a good work in me will continue to perform it (Philippians 1:6). How arrogant of me to imagine I had to face any of this alone! All I need to do is trust Him and obey Him, and He will take care of the rest.