The words “shortcuts cause erosion” glared at me from a sign along a Colorado trail I recently ran.  Its appearance was timely, as I was considering how to avoid the last ascent between me and my car.  My Kansas lungs were duking it out with the altitude, and I was running on weak fumes.  The sign did its job, and I stayed on the path.  My finish was slow and labored, but I didn’t want to be the one to cause the trail to erode.  I had seen severe erosion on the trail from water that formed startlingly deep crevices over the years.  As I pondered the erosion, I had a visual for my pastor’s response to the idea that some things are too hard or scary to face – “fear corrodes your spirit”.  His words are powerful, especially when I consider the decay and destruction caused by the corrosion of strong materials like metal and stone.  Whether something is eroding or corroding, it’s undergoing a gradual, and possibly destructive, transformation.

fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

When I consider my sins, I find fear lurking all around.  Fear of embarrassment . . . loss of pride . . . making a mistake . . . losing a friend . . . and so on to infinity.  In my areas of particular struggle, if I give in to fear more than once, I begin to desensitize to its darkness.  Destructive thoughts become acceptable – “surely God doesn’t expect me to do that; it’s just too much for any human, especially in today’s world and considering all I’ve had to endure today”.  It’s downhill from there, and the slippery slope lands me on my rear end every time.  A glance at the cross, however, can bring me out of the darkness if I stop rationalizing my weaknesses and turn to God for strength.  During His time on earth, Jesus faced every fear I’ve faced, and He conquered them all.  He could have walked a path of fear, but He instead accepted God’s will.  He trusted God to provide the tools necessary to endure tremendous suffering to save me and you from our sins.  I can’t stop fear from coming, but when it rears its ugly head, I will remember God expects me to do the scary and hard things for His glory and according to His will.  I will also remember that He will equip me for the challenge.  I’m not going to contribute to the erosion of any running trails, and I refuse to let my spirit resemble a piece of corroded metal in the junk yard.

Dear God, when I feel fearful, please give me courage, for I know I can conquer all things through You, according to your will.