I remember standing in the Ciudadela, watching as the rest of the group trudged up to the Sun Pyramid. Why didn’t I go with them? I told myself it was because being there in the ancient city of Teotihuacán was enough. I didn’t need the added exertion under the hot summer sun. In reality, I was afraid. I was afraid of falling down nearly 230 feet, trying to descend the steep steps, even though there was a rope to hold onto. To this day, I am not really sure why I was afraid. I have never been afraid of heights. There was just something incredibly intimidating about those 247 steps.
Looking back on that day, after four years, I have many regrets. I would have liked to see the breathtaking view of God’s creation from the top of that extraordinary man-made structure. I would have liked to have been one of the ones collapsing on the ground, exhausted from the exercise, but radiant from experiencing the power and grandeur of God’s presence in a new way.
Just as I stood back and watched as others had a magnificent experience with God on the top of that pyramid, I often stand back and watch as others have life-changing experiences with Him on the ground – at my own church. I know that there have been many times when God has asked me to do things to serve Him, but I have either hesitated or flat-out refused because of fear.
Fear is one of the ways Satan tries to keep us from experiencing the fullness of life that God has planned for us. After all, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV). Fear and doubt have been the prominent tools Satan has used to hold me back – to keep me from furthering God’s kingdom and experiencing His glory more completely, and I think this is true for many Christians. Why else would God warn us 83 times in the Bible to not be afraid?
Why should we be afraid? Obviously, because we are human, but this is a poor excuse when we consider all the promises God has given us. We belong to the Creator of the universe – the God who “protects the way of His faithful ones” (Proverbs 2:8). True, this does not mean that we should throw caution to the wind and jump off fifty-story buildings, believing God will break our fall safely (although He may choose to do so). The protection God promises is even better than that, and can be found, starting in the last part of Romans 8. Here are some key verses to remember when you are unable to scale your pyramid because of paralyzing fear.
Verse 28: And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (NIV)
We are promised that God will work everything out for our good – no matter what situation we find ourselves in. More importantly, He will work everything out for eternal good, according to His will.
Further on, in verse 31, Paul writes: If God is for us, who can be against us? (NIV)
The answer, of course, is no one. Sometimes we get too caught up in the negative reactions of others if we unashamedly do whatever God asks us to do. This is the main problem – we take our eyes off of God and focus on making other people happy. Not only is this nearly impossible, it’s also a bad example if servanthood. Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Then the best part comes in verses 37 through 39: In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are more than conquerors! What an awesome promise! How could we possibly let our fears get in the way of serving Him and doing His will? God Himself says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). If we focus our eyes on God and His promises, we will not be afraid of anything He asks us to do.
I know that God will give me other opportunities to serve Him, and I pray that I will one day have the opportunity to go back to Teotihuacán and climb that physical pyramid, so that I will have the chance to experience His glory in a whole new way. And I pray that God will empower you with the courage, dear reader, to scale all the pyramids He sets before you.