A Lesson on Fear

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” – Isaiah 35:3-4 NIV


photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

We were having a great trip.  The kind those perfect scrapbook pages are created from.  Little did I know the dark hand of tragedy traveled with us.


It was our daughter Shannon’s, fifth birthday.  We had just spent a few days at Disney World celebrating, and were now relaxing at our Nana’s fourth floor condo on the Inter-coastal in South Florida.


I was sitting on the back porch with Shannon and my son, Aaron.  Morning rains had come and gone, and we were enjoying the first hints of sun, cool sea breezes, and the fancy boats that sailed by.


Nana had warned us the patio floor might be slippery from the recent rains.  We promised to be careful, but weren’t too worried since we were content to just sit and chat.


While I was talking with Aaron, a sparrow landed on the porch railing about eight feet behind me. In typical childhood curiosity, Shannon decided to go take a closer look at the feathered creature.


I remember hearing a faint thud as I talked with Aaron.  On any other day, in any other circumstance, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but somehow this felt different and I moved into action.  I flew out of my seat and turned around.


There was Shannon, sliding off the edge of the patio, trying to grab at the leg of a nearby chair.


Not a sound was coming from her.  The bird was long gone, and oddly, I kept thinking, “How can she be so quiet about what’s happening to her?”


As I took one step toward her, my feet slipped out from underneath me.  I cracked my knee on the hard tile, as I crumbled to the floor.


I looked up, and saw her continue to slip away.  Her tiny arms couldn’t reach the chair leg.  She was almost over the edge, heading to a place I knew would break her little body, or killed her outright.


I leapt up from where I’d landed and reached for her arm. With a strength and accuracy beyond measure, I grabbed her wrist and pulled her up through the rungs of the railing like she was a feather.


For years afterward, I was haunted by the replaying of that scene.  The thought of almost losing Shannon gripped me with a fear that left me shaking and sweating in the dark hours of the night.


The Evil One loved my fears.  He spoke to me of how it was really my strength that rescued Shannon, and how God wouldn’t have saved her.


Each time the voice rose in my mind, I’d fight back with praises to the Lord.  Recalling the details of that day, I was certain God’s hands were all over it.


So why was reliving it over and over?  I just wanted to be done with it – move on, but of course there are always lessons that need learning.


Over those years, I learned a few things about fear, control, and pride.


I learned my greatest fears circle around the things I desperately want to control, and the things I think make me look important, useful, or worthy.  I realized the more I squeezed and manipulated, the more fearful I became, and to make matters worse, I accepted all the credit and kudos for every “success” that came my way.


But our Lord is a faithful and patient Teacher.  He showed me it’s not by our greatness that peace comes, but by His greatness that victory reigns.


When fear grips us, we have questions we must ask like, “What am I trying to take hold of?”,  “Is pride my motivator?”, or “Whom am I not trusting?”


The prophet Jeremiah tells us, “Instead, let us test and examine our ways.  Let us turn again in repentance to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40 NLT)


The hope is in the word “again”.  We can’t get bogged down with frustration that we are always addressing our fears or failings.  It’s a road, and a journey, and the key is to turn in repentance, and hand it over to God – again and again if we have to.


So as we travel our hope filled road, let’s be sure to continually test and examine our ways, put on our blinkers and turn when we’ve taken the wrong road, and let God’s divine retribution save us.


6 Replies

  1. Carrie

    Love the sentence: “He showed me it’s not by our greatness that peace comes, but by His greatness that victory reigns.” SO TRUE!! Once we give up the control, the fear, whatever is holding us back…we can truly be victorious. If we have to repent again and again to get there, so be it. Great message; and it just hits ya like a ton of bricks as you ladies do so well!

    1. Thank you for your kindness! Your strength in growing in such amazing ways, Carrie.

  2. Karen Uribe

    Raye I feel your fear as when our daughter was 4 we were in a hotel in Oregon on the 14th floor, we had a small balcony and as we were unpacking she wondered out in 1 split second and was squeezing between the iron railings, my husband, bless his heart just quietly walked over and took her little hand and pulled her back, I then had a small break down and still every now and then play that scene in my head and although I was not walking in obedience with our Lord then, I know now who was i n control of the situation and am so grateful to God! Thanks for sharing

    1. Karen, I’m always amazed at the attentiveness of the Lord. It’s so undeserved and unwarranted, yet there he is – all for his glory. May the Lord help you conquer your fears, and thank you for YOUR story, I’m glad it had a happy ending too.

  3. Suzi Jones

    Awesome Raye, just what I needed to hear. I’m praising God for your atentive ear to His wisdom.

    1. Thank you Suzi, praise God indeed for His wisdom!

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