When I was five-years-old, I panicked as I peered out the window of our vehicle, while my dad drove across the Mackinac Bridge, one of the world’s largest suspension bridges spanning five miles and rising 552 feet above the Straits of Mackinac, connecting the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. It didn’t help matters that my dad shouted, “You should be scared! Five construction workers died while they were building this!” Seeing my only safe-haven as the floor of the back seat, I crouched down in crash position, closing my eyes until we had crossed. I glanced out the rear window in utter amazement that we had navigated the enormous structure without crashing into the waters.
Fast-forward fifteen years, and I’m behind the wheel of a motorhome with my new wife Susan, my brother, my mom, and my dad, driving toward the bridge. I had dismissed my fear from a decade and a half prior as merely a child’s perspective. As the we drove closer to the bridge, it appeared larger and larger, looming like something you would see in an action movie. My heart began to beat outside my chest. My breathing was unlike any other time in my life, heavier than our high school basketball practices when we would run seventeens and suicides until we thought we would die. My stomach felt like it was about to heave. I could barely feel my limbs. My fingers were numb.
About that time, I noticed the gusts of wind tossing our RV back and forth. I began to focus on the steep incline of the bridge that looked like it was a ramp to the sky. I could have been diagnosed with gephyrophobia (fear of crossing bridges). Finally, I shouted, “I can’t do this! I hate this bridge!” That’s when my bride saved the day for me, confidently exclaiming, “Pull over! I’ll drive!” Grateful for her bravery, I parked on the shoulder of the road and moved to the passenger’s seat, deeply wanting to assume the crash position on the floor of the motorhome until we had crossed.
Fear paralyzes. Faith catalyzes.
In preparing Joshua to lead the Israelites into battle for the Promised Land, God instructed him: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Fear is the antithesis to faith, trusting in our God who is closer than we realize. This week, surrender your fear and discouragement to the One who can restore you with strength and courage because He is indeed with you. The God who delivered the Israelites from their enemies will guide you to be a catalyst for Christ amidst any circumstance.