I am a naturally anxious and fearful person and, as my children say, I can worry for England. I have been thinking about the courage that I need to follow my leadings and how I have often gained strength from reading about the experience of others. While still at school the first spiritual autobiography I ever read was John Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and I was much struck by it. One passage in particular spoke to me then and has continued to be an inspiration even if I don't always manage to act on it.
Bunyan was also a fearful person, continually anxious that God might forsake him. Imprisoned for preaching his faith he thought that he might be hanged and imagined himself on the gallows, standing 'on the ladder, with the Rope about my neck'. He asked God for comfort but none came. Then Bunyan realised that he had to trust in the love of God without asking for any assurance in return -
'Wherefore thought I, the point being thus, I am for going on, and venturing my eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no; if God doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the Ladder even blindfold into Eternitie, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell; Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture for thy Name.'
I wrote that passage down in my commonplace book and many years later I added another passage which seems to be giving the same message about trust. Sonia Johnson's autobiography includes the story of a dream which a woman in Missouri told to her. The woman dreamed that she was standing on the top of a high building and that in order to get home she would have to jump off. Her longing for home was so great that she leapt. Sonia Johnson continues -
'As she began to fall, a rope appeared before her; she reached out, grabbed it, and swung way out over the street. At the end of its arc, she knew that if she didn't let go, she would swing back to where she had been before and not be any closer to home. So she let go. As she began to fall again, another rope appeared. Grabbing it she swung out to the end of its arc and let go again. Trusting herself, letting go, reaching out, swinging out over the abyss, trusting, letting go, reaching out, she found her way home.'
I haven't always managed to trust God and let go of fear but I am still trying and these two passages have helped me.