I used to have a hard time facing first days. The first day of school. The first day of violin lessons. The first day of gymnastics. The first day of junior high.
Now I can laugh about it, but the reason I can is that I learned something important just before going to junior high. I began to get an understanding of God and His ever-present care. Not just His care for me but for each of His children everywhere. It really helped me not to let fear build up, and not just on first days, either!
I can tell you about it. I was so scared to go to junior high that it just about ruined my whole summer! I couldn't think about anything else except that I'd probably be a total washout. I wouldn't know where my classrooms were, or how to do my locker combination quickly, or anything! ...
One thing that I was grateful for was the love and patience (so much patience!) that my family showed me. On the day before school started, one of my brothers took me over to the junior high school, and following my class schedule, he showed me where everything was. That was a huge relief. And that night he stayed up with me and we talked before I went to sleep. He shared some things that he had learned about dealing with fear.
We had both been students in the Christian Science Sunday School since we were little kids, so we sometimes talked about God and about how you can pray when you feel afraid. My brother was sure God had cared for him at school, and away at camp, when he was afraid. The point is that God is always where we are, and He is the only power.
There is a really good example in the Bible of overcoming fear. It's a true story about a time when Christ Jesus walked on the water. See Matt. 14:22–33 .
Jesus had gone off to pray by himself. At the same time, his disciples were out in a boat on the water, and the waves were high and the wind was pretty wild. Well, Jesus needed to get to them, so he walked out on the water! It was late at night—in fact it was early morning before the dawn—and when he came toward the boat his disciples were surprised and scared. They thought he must be a ghost! Jesus told them not to be afraid. "Be of good cheer; it is I," he said.
The disciple Peter said, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." Jesus said, "Come," and Peter did walk on the water. Then he saw how wild the wind was, and he got scared and started to sink. (It was his first time walking on the water, see?) He called out, "Lord, save me," and so Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Jesus said, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" They got into the boat, and then the wind died down.
There's something important that I noticed about that story. Peter didn't sink too far to be saved, and the Master didn't have to dive down after him. Jesus just held out his hand as if he was proving to Peter that Christ is always ready to help.
Jesus was completely fearless because he always knew (and he said it) that God was able to do anything. See Mark 10:27 . Since Jesus is our Way-shower, we can be sure of God's presence too. We have his example for thinking of ourselves and others as not afraid. Not going through a scary or unpleasant time. Not unable to reach out and be saved.
I learned something else from that story. I thought about the high winds and waves as symbols of situations where we feel out of control. But even if a person isn't there to guide me or help me out, the Christ—giving the spiritual conviction that God is with man—is there.
One of Mrs. Eddy's poems is about Christ being our refuge. You probably know it from singing it as a hymn:
And o'er earth's troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
Divinely talk. Christian Science Hymnal, No. 253 .
So the Christ is God's idea coming to you, wherever you are, to help. And Christ comes in a way you can understand—always reaching out to hold you up.
I've often thought about how my brother sat with me that night, talking about times we both had turned to God. He just stayed until I wasn't afraid anymore. Before that, we used to fight a lot and tease each other. But from that night on we became really close friends.
Preparing for junior high through this kind of prayer helped me through that first day, of course, and has helped me in other experiences when I've needed to pray to get over fear.
It's never a "first day" to God. Each day is always His day, bright with promise and already filled with infinite Love.
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