When fear sits beside me…

I’ve always struggled with fear. In fact, every big change in my life, even those that have been the greatest blessing, has been accompanied by fear. I was afraid to start University, and afraid to launch into my teaching career. I felt fear sitting beside me as I contemplated buying my first house and I still feel it niggling in the pit of my stomach every time I travel.

I know I’m not alone. Fear is part of the human condition, but let’s not believe that it’s unconquerable.

Carrie Fisher is quoted to have said “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.”

Inspiring as I find this quote, the Bible does one better. It tells us that we do not need to be afraid.

The other night I was reading Psalm 27. This is the first section of Scripture that I ever memorised as a child, but this time it spoke to me in a new way.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

There are three clear reasons in this text that remind us why we don’t need to fear. First, the Lord is our light; he shows us the way. Second, the Lord is our stronghold; he anchors us with purpose and security. Finally, He is our salvation; the end-game is won and our eternity is sealed.

What can mortal man do to us?

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Will you speak out for people entirely unlike you?

locked-green-door_434-19316046I’m half way through reading ‘I am Malala,’ the famous book by the Nobel Prize winning girl who spoke out for education and was shot by the Taliban.

It gives a lot of insight into the lives of Pakistani peasants in the decades following the September 11, 2001 attack.

Malala’s father was a man who courageously spoke out against the Taliban, holding truth above cowardice. Malala records that he used to carry the following poem with him in his pocket. It is by Martin Niemöller, who had lived in Nazi Germany. It has really challenged me.

First they came for the communists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,

And there was no one left to speak for me.

Be Brave Little Piglet!

Winnie-the-Pooh-and-the-Blustery-Day-winnie-the-pooh-2021477-1280-960

As kids, we had the book Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. At some point in the book, little Piglet is swept away by the wind. Pooh cries out to him: “Be brave little Piglet!” as Piglet finds himself alone, high in the sky.

When we were young, mum often used this phrase on us as we were facing something we were afraid of. ‘Be brave little Piglet,’she’d say to us as we walked, with trepidation into the unknown.

The phrase stuck in my mind, and I found myself repeating it, even as an adult, during some of the most difficult times of my life. But, somehow, it didn’t help. Instead of feeling brave, I felt lost and small; a little Piglet in the midst of a storm.

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It was during a particularly rough time a couple of years ago that the problem with this mantra suddenly became clear. If I was seeing myself as a ‘little Piglet,’ I would feel lost, and small, like a child wanting to run back to the safety of their mummy.

What I needed to focus on was the truth of who I was. In Christ I was more like a warrior Princess than a small, weak piglet. I could be brave, because I had Christ in me; His power; His armour.

So now, when I face battles, I face them as a warrior, not as a defenceless Piglet. And the cry to ‘be brave,’ is much more achievable.