Friday, July 25, 2014

Pantophobia - A Fear of Everything

This is a centipede ladder.
But not our centipede ladder.
"I WANNA COME DOWN!" he screamed.

I tried to encourage him, "You can do it! Try for one more step!"

He shook his head simply, but emphatically, "No! I want to come down, NOW!"

I slowly began lowering him down on the belay rope that was attached to his safety harness.

To the right you can see a centipede ladder that is about 20 feet tall. At Shiloh we have one that is about 40 feet tall! This week, while running this event for the campers I met a kid who was afraid. He tried climbing, got about 5 feet off of the ground and froze.

After coaxing him down, he said, "MAAAN! That was scary up there!" I agreed, that it certainly can be scary. He continued, "But I'm scared of everything. I don't like the dark. I don't like scary movies. And I definitely don't like heights!"

Wow! Scared of everything? What kind of life is that? God tells us so often not to be afraid, and yet we are so easily frightened by the smallest spider (that quite frankly we could squish with our foot without any effort).

This is what I told him.

You need to realize that there is more than one kind of fear. First, there is rational fear. If you are being chased down by a lion, a bear, or a pack of wolves, you should really be afraid. You're probably about to die and you should be afraid, because whatever is about to happen... it's gonna hurt bad!

The second kind of fear is irrational fear. This is the sort of fear you get when you watch a scary movie and zombies have taken over most of the world (except Madagascar, because nothing ever gets Madagascar!) You might be scared or have nightmares about zombies, but in reality, there are no zombies breaking into your house tonight to eat your flesh. I would bet more than the national debt on it.

I then explained to this young man about the ropes that we use. They hold about 6000 lbs the last I recall. I asked, "You don't weigh 6000 lbs... do you???" He laughed quietly and said no. So I asked him and his 5'2" frame if he thought I weighed more than him. Again he chuckled and said yes. I asked him if he trusted me. This one took a little longer, but a moment later he looked me in the eye and said yes. Lastly, I asked him if he was ready to try to climb again.

As he stepped onto the ladder, I gave him one last piece of advice. "If you get stuck or get scared, shoot up a quick prayer to heaven. God has your back up there, and I've got the other end of the rope down here."

Step after step, rung after rung, he climbed up. I shouted up more encouragement, as did his friends while they were eagerly awaiting their turns. He was half way there! 20 feet off the ground!

Then he looked down.

The look of fear flooded his face again...

...but this time he closed his eyes, prayed a quick prayer and reached up above his head for the next hand hold! He was climbing again! We all cheered him on as he raced towards the top of the ladder. Upon reaching the top he bellowed a challenge to the world, "WHAT NOW!?!?"

He had overcome his fear, that only moments ago caused him to lock up and panic. Now he was ready to take on anything.

I slowly lowered him down on his belay rope as he cheered and raised his hands in victory. Once on the ground I gave him a pat on the back and unhooked his harness from the rope. I told him, "I knew you could do it! I'm so proud of you for overcoming your fears today. You're awesome!"

The smile on his face... I'm not sure that there are adequate words to describe it. For this boy, what had just happened was so much more than just climbing a funky ladder, or even than overcoming one of his fears. This was a moment of realizing that God was real. Something had changed when he prayed halfway up that ladder and he knew it.

As he walked away, I thought to myself, when was the last time I was willing to trust God with something so scary. Sure I believe in God... he's there. I know that. But do I always believe IN God? Do I always trust him for his sufficiency, his goodness, his protection?

If I answer honestly, no.

But I don't want to be like that! Today, I challenge you to try this. Pick something that would normally be a challenge for you to trust God for, ask him to help you trust him with that for one day. Leave us a note in the comments letting us know how it went!


  1. I have to admit that this was THE most relevant post I've read in a long time. I DO trust God - most of the time. But right now I have something I have to get past and there is a part of me that feels right on the verge of my old panic attacks. Thank you for following God's lead and writing this. I AM going to trust my BIG God and let go of my panic right here, right now. I so needed to read this tonight. Thanks.

  2. Keep up the good work! We had a nice birthday party yesterday for Camille and we missed you! However we know that you were in the right place and at just the right time! PTL!