What do trampolines, youth work and public speaking have in common? For myself, they have all at one point in my life conjured up a sense of fear. Laugh if you want to, but I am sure we all have different fears and I choose to share three of mine with you (yes, I have more believe it or not). However, this year I have had to face each one of those things square in the face. No turning back.
Facing my fears
I went to Air Extreme recently which is an indoor centre full of trampolines and fun activities. It’s a haven if you’re a kid or a big kid/adult who loves to bounce! I had no idea that I would find bouncing from one part of the trampoline to a separate part of the trampoline would make me feel so scared! I hadn’t bounced on one since I was about eight years old. I’d think ‘you can’t do it‘ and I’d hesitate and it’s the hesitation that causes accidents (that’s what a staff member said to me, the Queen of hesitation).
If that wasn’t scary enough, there was another area which looked truly awesome and there’s a video to show you just how great it looked:
Once again I was trapped by my own fear and doubt. If I couldn’t jump from one square to another, how would I plunge into the great unknown of the air bag?
A friend of mine who was part of my group that went to Air Extreme came alongside me and we bounced in our own separate squares of the trampoline. He was encouraging me and cheering me on to jump from one square to another. This was a real, practical and visible test of my faith!
This same friend also knew I was afraid of public speaking as we have worked together to do school assemblies this term. School assemblies. Public speaking. Fear.
“You’ve gone from not wanting to say a word at your first assembly to introducing the assembly and being the very first person that they hear.” Words from my friend – yes I am quoting him!
It’s amazing how a word of encouragement can give you courage. Encourage.
After several times of me hesitating in the air, I took a literal leap of faith.
I made it to the next square.
I know I am no Olympic athlete and it is something so small, but it was something that seemed so huge to overcome for me.
One small step for man, or Dan (as that’s the name of my friend) and one giant leap for Ruth.
Dan and I headed for the air bag. The air bag. That would be my moon landing.
We stood on the edge and on the count of three we both jumped into the air bag (well I kind of fell into it…). The air bag was awesome. I felt like I was in a cocoon. Leave me here, I said. It was like the world’s biggest cuddle. I had landed on my very own moon made of air.
Just like staring into the audience and feeling my heart accelerate, my palms cooling down and getting lightheaded, I faced my fears again.
Ok – so I didn’t actually bounce from the trampoline into the air bag. Does that mean I have failed? No! Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains and give us our own personal moon landings! As I walk daily with the Lord I am aware that He calls me out to deeper waters; my faith is stretched and I am out of my comfort zone.
One day, in His timing, I will take the biggest leap of faith of all and have my bounce on the trampoline into the air bag in front of a massive audience with the cheers of the young people! Well maybe not quite like that – but I will overcome all of those things because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
It took faith to fall into the air bag.
It took faith to speak in front of hundreds of people.
It took faith to be a trainee youth worker.
It takes faith to follow God.
But it’s not a blind faith.
I may have days when I feel afraid. That fear in me causes hesitation as I wrestle with the difficult questions of life, a faster heart rate as I share my faith with a friend or feeling lightheaded as I stand in front of my church or lead a youth group.
But I’m not alone – God is the one who says ‘fear not’ (Isaiah 41:10). I am forever hopeful and sure of my faith, especially in the times of life when I am most afraid. I am comforted, strengthened and encouraged.
“My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, what He has done, and what He is now doing for me.” Charles Spurgeon