“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
Timidity is a difficult subject for me. I seem to have a great gifting for it. I can timid with the best of them. I know how to avert my eyes, melt into the background, stare at the floor as if it held all the secrets of the known universe, and generally disappear from view. I am happiest when no-one notices me, and I can just get on quietly with my own thoughts. I prefer to sit at the back of church like a good Anglican on those rare occasions I’m well enough to go, and I don’t have the nerve to do or say very much in public. As an introvert with an energy-stealing chronic illness, small talk and chitchat exhaust and upset me, and even conversations with dear friends and family wears me out.
And yet, there is a courage deep within that means I am, despite these social failings, unafraid to fall deeper and deeper into God, able to stand the necessity for deceasing and letting bits of ego crash to the ground, and to speak my mind, and even God’s mind when he grants me the honour of a prophecy or a piece of wisdom. I have the courage to not care very much what people think of me, and I know I would die for my Lord. Just as long as he doesn’t ask me to read the lesson at Christmas.
So perhaps there are different kinds of timidity, just as there are different kinds of courage. It is early summer here in the UK and the birds are fledging. They have to somehow find the courage to leave the nest for the first time. It is the beginning of an exciting adventure, and yet also terrifying. They have to launch themselves into the air, with no idea what will happen. And the nest is so warm, cosy and familiar, why should they leave it? Something compels them. They are growing too big and there is a world out there to explore. Yes it contains acres of sky, beautiful trees, birdseed, puddles and berries, and yes, also cats and weasels.
I’m feeling a lot like one of those chicks at the moment. Used to being ensconced in my small house, hermitted by my illness and need for quiet, I am starting to find my life of prayer and creativity is being noticed. I have a book out soon, and a few pieces of my art are going into a local exhibition in July. Part of me feels like I’m being pushed out of the nest, part of me feels like I should be aiming at the sky and jumping. It feels scary and uncomfortable and yet, inevitable at the same time.
When we are sat in the nesting box, half in, half out, perhaps that is a good time to remember that God will give us the strength we need, and that, like Joshua about to cross into the Promised Land, we are encouraged to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1, verses 6 and 7) where there is a need to move forward. God will honour the weak places where we have a natural timidity and help us with them, and he will certainly take care of us physically, if we only ask. But there is a point where we understand that we must jump into flight, however far down that ground looks.
Photo by Gill Fuller, used with permission.