Everything about first grade was an adventure to me - the games, art & music, lunch, and, of course, recess. Best of all was reading circle. Because the boy next to me read in a loud whisper, I didn’t have to actually read. Mrs. Bozeman, my teacher, quickly caught on and wisely moved me to a different group where I had to learn to read on my own.

Then came second grade. Mrs. Lassiter was a very tall woman (or maybe she just seemed tall to a seven-year-old), but she was also kind and wise. Not many days into the school year, we had our first test. My stomach immediately went into spasms. I felt like I was going to throw up. I held up my hand and announced that I was feeling quite ill. After my classmates got busy on the test, Mrs. Lassiter left the class with her assistant and took me to the nurse’s station to call my mother. My stomach was still in knots when mom arrived. I begged her to take me home.

My teacher and my mother conferred for a few minutes (beyond my hearing). They, of course, knew that I was simply anxious about taking a test. Together, they agreed that I would stay at school for the rest of the school day and take the test during recess when my classmates were outside. So, with the encouragement of both my teacher and mom, the test went well and, oddly, my stomach spasms ceased.

As I grew up, each test I faced was a pivotal point which challenged and pressed me forward in life. Through each experience, I learned to persevere in spite of my fears. I’d like to say that those schoolhouse fears were conquered once and for all, but they weren’t. Had not my first-grade teacher changed my reading group, had my mother and second grade teacher allowed me to avoid the test, I probably would be a very different person today.

No doubt God used those overwhelming moments to begin teaching me how feeble those fears really were. It was but a year later that I made the most important decision in my life – surrendering my life to Jesus Christ. There was no fear in that decision. Jesus was no longer a hero in Bible stories, He became my amazing Friend. Whatever fears I now faced, Jesus was always with me. He was my strength and He never failed to catch me when I wavered. He kept me going and growing – a process dubbed “sanctification” by theological scholars.

In fact, skills I began learning in first and second grade were vital to my coming to the realization that I needed help in facing my fears. Knowing Jesus and always finding the answers to my questions in God’s Word, gives me an arsenal to fight those fears that still plague me from time to time.

When I am closer to Jesus, I am not overwhelmed by those feelings of inadequacy that make me fearful. Those feelings are not facts, no matter how strong they seem. You simply can’t live by feelings because they will blow you away from God’s stability.

If you want that type of stability in your life, why not use some of the free time you have left this summer to take out your Bible and read it from cover to cover. It’s filled with amazing, heart-warming, (and sometimes heart-breaking) stories. It also gives lots of guidance for facing your fears. Allow God’s powerful words to absorb into your heart and soul. The results: the stability of knowing that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a strong mind and that through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors of our strongest feelings. (2 Timothy 1:7)