From Lighthouse to Lighthouse: Facing Fears and Trusting God
Jul 12, 2015 05:41AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Since our return to the Boston area in 2009, every other year my family vacations in a different Canadian province. We started off at a KOA cabin near Niagara Falls, then two years later spent a few days in Québec City, and this year we are in a tiny cottage on Covehead Bay, which is fed by the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the beautiful Maritime province of Prince Edward Island. Currently, we are looking for Anne of Green Gables.
Board games, bike rides, drives through potato farmland marveling at old countryside churches, grilling steak tips, and walking long trails with the dogs are how we unwind. Vacations don't have to be frantic, expensive, or fast-food unhealthy. I'm so glad we made a deliberate choice to get our serenity on and breathe in the salty Atlantic water as we walk around the bay.
This week has been a time of getting reacquainted with the kids, reminding them we are more than just taxi drivers, moneylenders, and activity cheerleaders. The best of ourselves is reinvesting in the best of ourselves. It's so good to replenish and fill up again. I hear that still small voice whispering into my heart lessons to take away from breathing in deeply and not being busy.
And sometimes, it's when we're in vacation mode that we feel freer to conquer our fears. My youngest, Little Man, is now biking like a champ all over the bike paths of Prince Edward Island because he pushed through the anxiety and saw where he could soar once he stopped being afraid. The carrot dangling in front of him?
If you want to get to the beach, you need to bike there.
Where do you, or I, need to stop being afraid today and feel the wind on our faces and victory in our leaps of faith?
Pedaling around this island has taken my husband and I back to our years as a family in the Marshall Islands, when we rode our bikes or walked everywhere—no cars to fill with gas! We are remembering, as a family, how it felt to have the atmosphere whisper rushes of God’s goodness into our ears as we attempt to fight wind with our own might and forge ahead through the forces in the air that simultaneously push us back and hold us up.
We have to trust that the efforts of our legs will propel us forward to the beach, like Little Man. He knew the beach was ahead of him. He had to trust himself to ride without falling and end up at his desired location.
We found the same to be true when we went looking for lighthouses. On a day with drizzly, overcast skies, we decided to pack up the dogs, grab a few food reinforcements, and drive the southeastern coastline of the island. PEI is blissfully absent of tourist-pleasing gift shops or beachside restaurants. There are a few, but consumer tourism isn’t the point. Beauty is. And so our goal was to hop from lighthouse to lighthouse and catch a few pictures and scenic views.
At the first one we encountered, which was the oldest lighthouse on PEI, I met a Scottish woman right before I faced my fear of small, constricted places and heights to climb to the top. When I came back down from navigating several flights of anxious descent and dusty hands, and I confessed my fear (since I knew I wouldn’t be able to process anything she tried to tell me until my heart rate returned to normal), she said:
"Well done, you!"
I felt as if I had jumped into a Dr. Who episode! Fantastic!
But it struck me:
- How we were blindly following maps through rural country with very few landmarks to speak of to see if we could find the next lighthouse in dreary skies
- How even climbing one to find the light took so much belief that it was there, that we could someday reach it, and that when we found it, it would light our way
We had to fight fear and believe we were headed toward the prize—and that it would be worth it.
I feel that way about Christ and my faith in God. The Bible says God’s Word is a lamp to my feet. I have to put my faith in that and know that even when I don’t always understand it, like the air holding us up as we ride along windy paths, it is there to protect me, to keep me safe, to deliver me from my fears. It is shining a path out of the dark I sometimes find myself sitting in. It lights my way.
Psalm 119:105, ESV, (Believed to be) David writing
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Little Man had to believe he was getting to his beach, that we weren’t deceiving him.
I had to consider the flashing lens at the top of a very narrow ladder to be valuable enough to trust God to get me there.
And on our journey along winding, narrow roads with little view ahead of us, we had to believe that we could get from hidden lighthouse to hidden lighthouse.
Isn't that ultimately the faith journey we enter when we say “Yes, Jesus, I believe you”? From that point on, aren’t we living out each trial, each confusing moment, each burden or worry, and each fear, going from one lighthouse to another lighthouse at a time?
We seek the lamp of His Word and express the prayers on our hearts to find the next instruction, to stretch beyond the next fear holding us back, seemingly paralyzing us—but for His Light.
As we yield to His lead, we find a beautiful truth:
We become His light, reflecting His glory and lighting the path ahead of others, who, like us, may be stuck and unsure of their next steps.
Matthew 5:14-16, ESV, Jesus speaking at His famous Sermon on the Mount
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
And I imagine as we start to shine, as we find His light and conquer the fears that formerly gripped us, there is an audience waiting for us, inspired to take their own steps of faith—as well as a still, small voice calling out to us:
“Well done, you!”
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.