“‘Fearless’ is not the absence of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. To me, fearless is having fears, having doubts, lots of them. To me, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.” - Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift wrote these words in the liner notes of her album "Fearless." This album was like the soundtrack to my early teen years, I knew every word. I remember reading those words and thinking about how they changed my perspective on fear. Previously I thought to be fearless meant having no fears, and I thought that was impossible. The world is a scary place and I am just one small person, of course, I am going to have fears.
We can have fears, however, it is important that we don’t let fear contain us. That we don’t let fear limit our lives and our experiences. That even though we may be scared or apprehensive, we take part in experiences and we live life to the fullest. It is important that we realise that God is bigger than our fears and that we can hand them over to Him. We need to trust in His ability to get us through any situation, through His strength and peace.
Recently, I was on holiday in the Queenstown region in the South Island. It is a beautiful part of New Zealand and wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by endless mountains or overlooking a stunning lake. While we were there, my boyfriend was really keen to go on a helicopter ride, knowing that the view from the air would be even more breathtaking.
I knew this was something on his bucket list and wanted to experience it alongside him. But I was scared, I was very nervous. As we were driving to the airport where we were taking off from, I was freaking out about the helicopter ride, but I couldn’t really explain or understand why I was.
Now I know people go in a helicopter every day, it is not an uncommon event. But think back to when Jesus walked on the water as recounted in the gospels. The disciples were making their way across the lake at night as instructed by Jesus, and it was becoming dark. John chapter 6, verse 18 describes a strong wind on the lake and the waters becoming rough.
You can just imagine the sense of fear developing in the disciples as they rowed across a lake in the dark with strong winds and rough waters. That fear is only increased when they see Jesus walking on the water towards them. In Matthew’s account, the disciples are said to be terrified, thinking that Jesus was a ghost: “‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.” Matthew chapter 14, verse 26.
But Jesus’ own words provided them comfort. “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” Matthew chapter 14, verse 27. If the words of Jesus can provide comfort to a group of disciples rowing across a rough lake in the dark, who have just seen a man walk on water, then surely, they can comfort us too.
Once we arrived at the airport, we very quickly ended up in the helicopter ready to go. We took off and I was immediately awestruck by the beauty of creation completely surrounding me. It was as if God was saying to me ‘do not be afraid’ through admiring His creation.
The views over Queenstown and the vast mountains really were breathtaking. I hadn’t let fear win and I savoured the moment when we landed on a mountain, taking in the panorama of views. I had fears but, in spite of them, I took part in the experience and it paid off.
Today, we may not audibly hear Jesus say ‘do not be afraid,’ like the disciples experienced, but we can read and know the stories of Him commanding us to trust our fears to Him. Jesus still speaks to us today, and we can each find the different ways that Jesus will encourage us to see that God is bigger than our fears and anxieties.
It may be through creation or art or community or any number of other ways, but God will send His peace over us and in a quiet way say, "Do not be afraid."
Rebecca Hoverd studies at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to express her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations and you can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org