What Are You Afraid Of?
“Can we have your insurance card to update our information?” the receptionist inquired.
“Hmmm…I don’t think anything has changed,” I responded numbly.
“Well…it has been four years since you’ve been here, so maybe we should look at it just in case?”
“Four years?” I thought to myself incredulously. “FOUR YEARS? Epic fail on seeing the retinal specialist once a year, Angela.”
I could give you a dozen reasons as to why I put off seeing this particular doctor. No slight to him, but I’m not a fan of the disorienting routine of numbing drops, eye pressure gauges, new-fangled machines that flash jarring, blue specs, and examinations with blinding white light. Then there’s the joyous experience of dilating my eyes, fumbling through the office space without my contacts, and listening to him dictate a stream of gibberish to his nurse while my heartbeat throbs in my ears.
More than a decade ago, I noticed a black spot in my left eye while I was on a family vacation. Within a few hours, I realized that something was going terribly wrong with my vision. My first encounter with this retinal specialist revealed the cost of being severely near-sighted. Over time, my retina stretched painfully thin, allowing microscopic blood vessels to hemorrhage, causing dark spots and blurred vision. Dr. Johnson performed a sophisticated procedure, using intravenous dye to find the source of the hemorrhage and lasers to repair it. Unfortunately, damage from scar tissue rendered my left eye useless except for peripheral vision. I’m supposed to see him every year, for signs of further damage in my left eye – or even worse – signs of damage in my right.
And if I’m honest, in spite of all the explanations I could give as to why four years have passed since my last visit, the core reason is fear.
I can’t explain the sense of dread that comes over me in the days leading up to my appointment. I’m afraid of what he’s going to say. I’m afraid of what he’s not going to say. There’s really nothing I can do to prevent the same thing from happening to my right eye…and the thought of not being able to see is terrifying. Just navigating the hours following dilation makes me feel frail and helpless. The thought of not being able to read music, or see my children walk down the aisle, is more than my mother’s heart can take.
Reflecting on my appointment, I sense God nudging me to deal with my fear. Our theme for our church this year is, “Fearless.” Learning to step scared in the face of genuine fear is no small feat. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward in spite of it. I’m comforted reading the narrative of so many powerful men and women in the Bible who were consoled by the same four words: “Do not be afraid.” Yet, God’s words don’t end with a directive; they end with a promise: “For I am with you.”
Just a handful of the heroes who dealt with fear.
Our theme verse for this year is Isaiah 41:10: “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.”
Fear clouds our vision. It blinds us to the promises of a loving Heavenly Father who is wholly trustworthy when life is not. I don’t know what you’re facing that threatens to cloud your vision with fear. Perhaps it’s fear of the unknown…or a painfully stretched marriage…or failing health. I can’t promise you a future without fear. What I CAN promise you is a God who promises to walk with us through every terrifying moment. When the difficulties of life disorient us and try to steal our peace, we can place our hope firmly in God. He has already been to our future and He knows what is ahead for us.
Fear clouds our vision, but faith sees the unseen.
Today, I received a good report – and for that, I am incredibly grateful. I know there may come a day where that may not be the case. It is difficult for me to even type those words. But I choose not to dwell on my fear, but on my unchanging Heavenly Father.
Whatever your future may hold, know that it cannot obscure your ability to see and experience the power and sustaining grace of our Heavenly Father. You can choose faith. You can walk fearlessly knowing that your future is securely in His hands. If you don’t have a relationship with Him today, I plead with you to turn your life over to the God you can trust. Jesus died so we don’t have to be held captive to fear. No darkness. No sickness. No confusion. No trial. No disappointment. Is greater than His love for us.
Don’t let fear cloud your vision. Ask God for the faith to see the unseen, the courage to step scared, and the grace to trust Him no matter what.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
Check out our amazing original song, “Fearless.”