The nudge came around 2 o’clock in the morning. “Timmy’s is awake. It’s your turn,” said my wife as she rolled over and went back to sleep.
I shook off the cobwebs and slowly started towards my six-year-old son’s room. I turned on the hallway light, opened his door and saw this sweet little boy sitting up in bed with tears streaming down his cheeks.
“Hey Timmers. What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I had a bad dream and I’m scared,” he sobbed.
Trying to move things along and get back to sleep, I said, “You’re okay. Well, just try to think about nice things and your bad dream will go away.”
“What should I think about?’ he asked.
“Well…think about God and how much he loves you.” I thought I’d came up with the perfect response.
Then he looked up at me and said, “That is what I was thinking about and that is why I’m scared.”
“Wait, you were thinking about God and you got scared?” I asked.
“I was thinking about Heaven” he told me.
Digging deeper I said, “Why would thinking about Heaven scare you?”
He looked me right in the eye and said “Dad, what if Heaven is boring?”
I had no response to that question at two in the morning. In fact now I was a little scared too. I’d never thought about that before.
I assured him the God had great plans for us and that Heaven would not be boring.
Eventually he fell back asleep, his fears relieved.
It’s amazing how much sleep is lost because of our fears. I think about how many nights I’ve laid awake thinking about things that I’m afraid of.
Last week I had the opportunity to talk with a young man who is getting ready for college. I asked him what he was excited about. He told me he was excited to meet new people, have new experiences, and living on his own. Then I asked him if he had any fears about this new adventure. He replied, “Yes, I fear just about every thing!”
Whether we are six years old, a middle school student, a college freshmen, or a seasoned adult, we all have fears.
For many years I worked with middle school students and often talked about fears that they face. In small groups, I had them brainstorm the different fears. After a while I started to write down all the things they listed. I stopped writing them down when the list got over 350 different things.
When my boys were in middle school I’d occasionally pull out that list and read it just to remind myself what is going on in their heads each day as they got on the bus for school. While there were several hundred fears that kids mentioned, there were fears that were common in the small groups.
These fears included fitting in, peer pressure, making bad choices, being made fun of, being alone, parents splitting up or divorcing, failing a test, dealing with conflict, what others think of me, not being good enough.
If we are honest, we can admit that many of these fears did not end when we got out of middle school. I talk to friends who still claim these fears today. Do you ever fear not being good enough or not fitting in with others? That the job is too big? That the challenge too great? Do you fret when there are no easy answers? Do you fear what tomorrow will bring?
Do you ever wonder if you are the only one who has fears? I can assure you that you are not! Ask Moses if he was afraid when God told him to leave his home and confront the mighty pharaoh. Ask Jonah who ran away from God rather than preach to the people in Nineveh. Ask Mary who was visited by an angel as a teenager and told that she was going to bear the Son of God. While you’re at it, ask Esther, Joshua, Abraham, Elisha, Hagar, Gideon, Zechariah, Paul, Barnabas, or any of Jesus’ disciples. They can all tell you about fear.
But there is also one more thing they will tell you. Something that we will want to remember. Something that we can tell our children when they are afraid. It is something that the Lord repeats over and over in scripture. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. He does not leave us helpless. We are not alone.
Yes, everyone of us struggles with fears daily. We are easily scared. But God uses scared people. I remember someone telling me when I was young that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I’ve come to discover how untrue this is. There are many days that I am in over my head. The real truth is that GOD will never give us more than HE can handle.
So, go ahead. Let the fears come. Bring them on. Then turn them over to the Lord.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
David also said to Solomon his son,
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you.
He will not fail you or forsake you
until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
1 Chronicles 28:20
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn, Father of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries