For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert! (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)

We moved to a different town just as I entered junior high school. Making the transition from elementary school to junior high is a tough experience for any twelve-year-old, but my time was a disaster.

There were eleven of us "new" kids, and for the first two days we were tested to see if we could fill-in the right little bubbles with marks from #2 pencils.

On the morning of the third day we were told to report to the Vice Principal's office for our class schedule. It was a pink slip of paper with room numbers and teacher's names, but no map. The clock was ticking and I had no idea where Room 17 was. I was late ... and new ... and lost.

By the time I found Room 17, I was terrified. I waited outside the door for a few seconds, trying to collect the courage to walk in. Believe me I wanted to run away to Australia.

Then, at the moment I opened the door, the class erupted in laughter. I knew they were laughing at me. My skinny frame sported thick horn-rimed glasses and embarrassing new "tin-grin" braces. Not daring to look up, I walked over to the teacher with my eyes fixed on his shoes.

When I handed Mr. Bell my pink slip,

Mr. Bell responded, "Oh, no!"

I was stunned, frozen in rejection. I longed for Australia. He pointed to a chair by the door and said, "Sit there for now. We'll see about getting you a desk tomorrow." (Later I realized he probably said "oh, no!" because there were no more desks in the room, but I wasn't sure.) I sat there, never lifting my eyes, replaying Mr. Bell's words over and over in my mind.

As soon as the bell rang I bolted out the door and headed for my next "rejection" room, hoping this was going to get better. Then, I noticed I had Mr. Bell for Science and Math. (Math was in the same now infamous "rejection" room.) This was the original "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

For me, my new school certainly lived up to its name, Downer Junior High (Edmond Downer Junior High, San Pablo, CA).

God was there that day, but I missed him. I really missed him.

When I was young I struggled with fear, even before Downer Junior High. I think the thing I feared most was that people wouldn't like me, that they would discount me, or make fun of me.

I was terrified!
Some of those fears are still with me, but God has opened my eyes. He changes fearfulness into faith stories. I am constantly learning that my adventure with God is filled with fears and struggles. I see now that many of my life's greatest moments have begun with uncertainty and fear.

Consider the following thought:

The pursuit of certainty and predictability is our caution speaking. Freedom is the prize, safety is the price, what is required is faith more than fact and will more than skill.

(Peter Block in The Answer to How Is Yes.)

What are you learning?

That's not an idol question. Questions shape us. I'm learning to answer questions of purpose and intention. They help me understand my fears. So, I am exploring what really matters in my life. I have found the quality of adventure and mystery — the God things — are at the top of my "what matters" list. But these require doing a new thing, they involve taking a risk. They require faith!

What about you?

What really matters in your life? What is really worth doing?