Dear Friends,

What are you frightened of? That’s the question I’ve just asked 400 children during 2 assemblies at Beech Hill Primary school. Some of the answers I got included ‘nightmares and bad dreams’, ‘when I’m on my own without my mum and dad,’ ‘spiders’. I then asked the children what helped them to deal with their fears – again, answers included, ‘take 10 deep breaths’, ‘count to 10’, ‘tell someone you trust,’ ‘run away’ (that’s what I do when a bee or a wasp comes close!)

I then shared the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus and suddenly finding himself sinking as he took his eyes off Jesus. In the version of the story that I read, this was the closing sentence from Jesus, ‘why didn’t you believe that I would keep you safe.’ We finished with a prayer, thanking God for being there for us, for our family and friends who help us when we feel frightened and that we might be there for others when they feel frightened.

There’s no doubt that the past 20 months has left many people feeling frightened. There’s been the fear of getting seriously ill or of our loved ones getting the virus. We’re not over the pandemic yet by any means and it will take time for confidence to return. It was a real joy to go back in to the school after 20 months of not being able to. The teacher I work with said, ‘it felt like a step back to normality.’ I certainly came away with ‘a spring in my step!’

We are all in a season of needing to trust God for the future. As a minister and as a church we are in the midst of the stationing process. It’s daunting for everyone involved in what, without God, would be an impossible task. I’m trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and believe that he will keep us all safe.

I read recently that the words ‘Fear Not’ appear in the Bible 365 times. God knew we would feel frightened and afraid and in need of such reassurance. I love some of these other words of encouragement I discovered this week:

John Wayne was known to have said, ‘Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.

Stop being scared of failing. Be scared of not trying.’ ‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.’ (Karen Salmansohn)

 

“If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer – His grace sufficient, His promise unchangeable.” – (John Newton)

 

True faith, by a mighty effort of the will, fixes its gaze on our Divine Helper, and there finds it possible and wise to lose its fears. It is madness to say, “I will not be afraid;” it is wisdom and peace to say, “I will trust and not be afraid.” (Alexander MacLaren)

 

Whatever fears you are facing today, may you trust in the God who says ‘Fear Not.’

 

Your sister in Christ, Juliet