Last week, my co-workers and I at the Canadian Centre For Bio-Ethical Reform went on a work retreat at the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia. That would excite most people—but not me. I was terrified. I had never been so afraid in my life.
I am deeply afraid of heights. And I’m especially afraid of traveling by airplane.
Before last week, I had only traveled by airplane twice, and that was when I was between ten and twelve years old. And in each of those flights, I caused a major scene. On my first flight, I had to be pulled away from my uncle in Ghana and forced into the plane by airport security. On my second flight, I was seated next to a social worker, who held me tightly and encouraged me the entire flight.
And since then, I’ve consistently avoided every opportunity to travel by airplane over the last twenty years. Instead, I committed to travelling through Canada and America by car or bus.
So the night before the flight to Alberta, I was anxious and afraid.
I sent a text to my coworkers saying: “Guys, I won’t lie. I’m very terrified of heights. I’m very anxious about tomorrow’s flight. I know I’m pathetic. Please pray for me.”
They prayed for me, and Jesus answered their prayers.
On the flight to Alberta, I sat next to my friend, Devorah. I covered my face, especially my eyes, with my facemask: I didn’t want to see outside the window. I was so anxious, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I was so anxious, I thought I was going to vomit.
I was so afraid, I asked Devorah to hold my hand for several minutes. When I finally released her hand from mine, her hand was covered in redness, my sweat, and my fingerprints.
When we arrived in Alberta hours later, I was relieved—until I saw the Rocky Mountains. Now that I had endured flying over clouds, I had to endure driving over mountains too.
I sat at the backseat of the car, and again, I covered my eyes as we drove on the mountains in Alberta and British Columbia to get to our cottage.
When I was over the clouds and when I was over the mountains, I had never felt so vulnerable and so helpless. The clouds and the mountains are overwhelming. I’ve never felt so small, and the world has never felt so big.
But it was good for me to experience that. I learned that my fears were so big because my faith was so little.
That experience made me repent from my self-centredness. My fear about the mountains and the clouds made me dwell on who I am not, instead of who God is.
I remembered the mountains and the clouds are not more overwhelming than God. He created them for his glory and my joy. I remembered the world isn’t bigger than God. He created it for his glory and my joy. God is above the mountains, and he is above the clouds.
I had never felt so small, and God had never felt so big. My unrighteousness felt so big, and God’s righteousness and holiness felt so much bigger. God’s faithfulness to me is bigger than my fears. His grace and power are bigger than my sins and weaknesses.
When we drove through the Rocky Mountains, when I saw their overwhelming size—when I remembered God created these big mountains just by speaking a little word, I became so overwhelmed with reverence and fear for God, that I wanted to go on my knees and say, “Lord, flee from me, I’m a sinner.”
So on the trip back to Ontario, I was significantly less afraid of the mountains and the clouds. I stopped covering my eyes: if the mountains and clouds are making me fear God more, why should I turn my eyes away from them?
I’ll probably never be completely comfortable driving over mountains and flying over clouds, but until the Lord returns and glorifies me, I’ll never be completely comfortable with God either. That shouldn’t make me hide from him. And it shouldn’t make me hide from his mountains and clouds either.
“Jesus said that if I fear, I should come to him. No one else can be my shield. I should come to him.” – CityAlight
When our fears are big, our faith is small. And when our faith is big, our fears are small.