“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Several years ago, I had the fortunate opportunity to travel with groups of eighth graders to Washington DC and New York City. For seven years, with the help of wonderful parents, I was blessed to be with them as they experienced our nation’s capitol along with the city that never sleeps. Their responses never disappointed. Many of them had never traveled outside of their home state, let along been to DC or New York.
The first year I traveled was prior to September 11th when you still had the opportunity climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty and peer through the windows of her crown. Everything went extremely smoothly while we were still in the base of the pedestal. The steps were wide and the kids could easily stand five across while joking and playing around with each other. Then, we came to the top of the pedestal and found ourselves standing in the bottom of the statue itself. The collective gasp and silence that fell over our group was amazing. As everyone looked up, we realized we would have to climb a tiny winding staircase in a single file line. Suddenly, I watched as nerves settled over many of my students; but, being the wonderful young adults they were, they seemed to pair off and shuffle around so they had a buddy to climb with. One young lady though was terrified. I believe we made it less than a quarter of the way up before she started having a mild panic attack. She wanted down, immediately. Unfortunately, we were at a point where the only way to finish was to keep going. I will never forget that she turned around and stared into my eyes. I started talking to her about anything and everything that came to mind as a young man in front of her guided her up the steps. She climbed the remainder of the way backwards with her eyes never leaving mine and even took the opportunity to gaze outside the crown windows.
But for me, the power of that story was not her ability to make it to the top. Instead, it was mine. I am deathly afraid of heights. It’s my one major fear. Without her to focus on, I still question whether or not I would have ever made it to the top. To this day, I truly believe God blessed me with being in that position, not so I could serve her, but so I would draw on Him to conquer my own fear.
He is the one who has the power to do great things; the one who will be with us every step of the way and will help us face anything we may fear.