For as long as he could remember Josh took things seriously. He viewed it as simply being cautious. His Mom and Dad would remind him; “You be careful because…..whatever”. This advise seemed reasonable, since there was not only a lot of scary stuff out there; you never know when you will run into it. Josh did…often.
Over time, it appeared to others that Josh was something of a worry-wart. He would appear to even invent things to be concerned about…..things that many people would just take in their stride: justifying; “That’s life!”.
His fears would show up at school when tests came and he would choke up….Even if he studied hard for them. And, despite the fact that he proved to be a good student, he would break out in a sweat. Then would worry about that.
It wasn’t until he found himself apprehensive about trips away from home, even with groups of friends, that things began to get out of hand. His mother and dad were told about those episodes.
They talked with councilors and they were advised that some degree of anxiety was to be found in quite a few youngsters; That the media seemed preoccupied with really bad things that were happening to regular people. But, “Perhaps he should see a therapist .”
The longer things went the more that issues crept into his regular routine….. to the point he didn’t want to leave the house. Friends began to disappear.
This was everyone but one; Ed Farley, who had made his way through the grades with him, and they had spent weekends together many times. It was because of Ed’s strong insistence, that they both went camping (under protest) with a group from church on Mount Faith.
They arrived by bus, and Ed recognized the growing disturbance in Josh… he tried to reassure him, but he was shaking.
Soon everyone had finished setting up camp and were picking partners to tour the lower part of the mountain. After serious coaxing by Josh, the two of them took off down the path next to the stream. Within minutes it appeared that Josh was not going to go any further. He had set himself down on a fallen tree, and was now crying.
Within a short time, a fisherman moved along the path and noticed what was going on. He inquired “Is something wrong, has your friend been hurt?” Ed replied; “No sir, he’s just afraid of being out here in the woods.”
The Fisherman smiled and said. “Well, it’s a good thing that there is three of you…. you should be able to handle things.”
Josh looked up for the first time and asked; “Don’t you see there is just the two of us, and I would be anxious even if there was somebody else>”
The Fisherman, who we might later know as Peter, placed his hand on Josh’s shoulder and said; “Fear not, for the Lord is always with you”. I have seen many afraid in the past… some will be able to set it aside… others will not, for they failed to trust God.
“Let me ask you this; Has your fear crippled you when you felt you knew you were prepared and really desired and believed in a good outcome?”
Josh replied; “Sure I have.”
Peter continued; “Well, so have I. There was a time when I thought I was in total control of my life ; until I was asked by someone; “Do you know the Messiah? I did not ….until it was not long after that I saw Him perform miracles: Turning water into wine, healing a blind man, giving a cripple power to walk, even filling my nets with fish that were not there.
“He walked on water, and rose from the dead after he was crucified and buried. And, so many others during His short time on earth.”
“I denied knowing him after His death ……in fear of my life as His disciple. Yet, I was forgiven and received the Power to do all things In Him.”
“I fear nothing as long as He is at my side.”
Josh was stunned by these revelations and turned to Ed and asked:”How can this be. Do you believe what He says?”
Ed replied: “There is no way this is Peter of the bible, but I believe what he says is true.”
Peter then reminded them; “God is not of this world… nor am I. Call me another miracle if you like. I am only His messenger. The truth will find it’s way into your heart…..only when you conquer your fears.”
He blessed them, and was gone.
Within moments, there came a peace and strength that washed over Josh that he had never experienced before. His body had a strange warmth, and his shaking hands steadied and he suddenly made a fist.
Then came….”Do you hear that?” as he smiled at Ed.
“The Mountain is calling……We’d better answer!”
They took off…. Joshua leading the way warning; “You better keep up; We’re headed straight for the top!”
By the Grace of God… they made it!