“Truths to Live By” (Part 4) – “Don’t Panic!” by the Revd Nigel Evans
“Don’t panic!” A familiar phrase, and the way The Message begins this verse from Isaiah 41.
Panic, fear and anxiety was felt many times in the years before I ‘came out’. As a son, a husband, a father, and as a vicar in the evangelical tradition for 18 years I was in constant denial about my sexuality. Deep down however, I knew the truth, and feared what would happen if anybody found out that I was gay.
During those nights filled with anxiety, troubled sleep and night terrors this verse brought me comfort and strength. I knew in my head the truth of these words – God was with me in my fear. God alone gave me the strength to get through each day – something I prayed each morning. The verse reads: “I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”
These words kept me going for over 30 years. Until I chose to come out, and everything crumbled around me. It was then that I knew not just in my head but in my heart the real truth of these words. For so long I believed, that living out my true sexual identity would put me beyond the boundaries of God’s love. How wrong could I have been!
As I relinquished control, and allowed God to take the reins of every part of me, I became aware of the deep strength of his love, of the tight grip he has always had on my arm to stop me from crumpling and despite the fear that was undoubtedly present he has filled me with hope and joy.
There has been pain of loss. But fear and panic has subsided, replaced by joy as I live the life God always intended for me. His promise – to do the same for you.
God of strength, you are always with us. You will never leave us or abandon us and you hold us when we feel weak.
Enable us to be strong and courageous this day. Help us to not be frightened, and not be dismayed, as we live out our lives as your precious people.