One of my favorite rides in Disneyland is the Indiana Jones Adventure.
The ride’s grand opening to the public happened during my very first trip to Disneyland. After a three hour wait, we were among the few hundred people to ride the highly anticipated new attraction. It was a glorious adventure!
I don’t remember it being scary, but I’m sure I was frightened.
Fast forward to 2016. I was experiencing Disneyland for the first time with my nephews. The eldest one is braver than I ever could hope to be. On this day, it was his second go-round on Indiana Jones during that trip, my first after that inaugural ride over a decade ago.
Eyes wide, he whispered low, “I won’t be scared.”
I smiled at him, unsure of my own fear status.
We climbed into the jeep, buckled in. And I held his hand, because for some reason, I have grown afraid of rides.
“Don’t be scared,” he said, with less courage than his first declaration.
All throughout the ride, his hand gripped mine. His hold became tighter and tighter and tighter and tighter as the ride darkened to amplify the thrill.
He was frightened. And so was I. But we held onto each other, silently committed to the promise to never let go.
After the ride ended and my spine cried with relief from being jostled and juggled for the past four minutes, my nephew abounding with alacrity, leapt out of the electronic buggy and ran to his mother.
“I was brave! I wasn’t even scared.”
He beamed at me, the truth lovingly tucked away between the two of us.
Yes, Kid. I held your hand and you held mine. We were both terrified. But when we’re together, we can be brave.
I often think about this moment when I need to do the brave thing.
Analysis paralysis is my go-to response to big, brave things. But then I remember this:
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. -Isaiah 41:10
Sometimes when I picture bravery, I think about the lone hero, standing at the edge of the sea, looking toward the oncoming storm. She is determined to remain firm in her principles and face the storm on her own. She may have been abandoned in her journey, but she will withstand the fight.
She will do the brave thing.
But perhaps the most common picture of one who stands in bravery isn’t the one who stands alone. Perhaps bravery happens when I admit my fear to God and know that he understands. When I know that he will gently hold my hand and tell me that I need not be afraid because he is with me.
Furthermore, as the church, we can be God’s hands and feet. We can hold each other’s hands, terrified. But together, we can strengthen the other.
We can stand up to injustice.
We can walk towards grace.
We can build communities of peace.
We can do the brave things.
Whenever I need to do a big thing, I remember this treasured memory with my nephew and remember that I can hold God’s hand. I may still be terrified, but I am safe in the firm hold of my Father.
Sometimes it looks like:
Singing a hymn or a song
Meditating on a Bible verse
Sharing my journey with friends
But most of the time, it’s a whispered prayer, a simple request on repeat, breathed into God’s ear.
And he will answer: Be not afraid.
In the end, I will do the brave thing because of the truth that stands between us: He is with me and He will not let me go.