Fear has been a topic that’s been following me around lately.
We’ve done sermons on it at church.
I’ve read a book about it (Fierce Faith by Alli Worthington ~ fantastic book!).
I’ve had conversations with friends about it because lately it seems my life is a wee bit characterized by it.
I was given the opportunity to read and review a book called “I Will Not Fear” ~ A book written by a lady named Melba Patillo Beals. She was one of the nine African American students chosen to integrate into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. I can’t imagine what life would have been like — to have felt so unwanted, so other, so less than… and such fear! I have studied American history, and I am aware of the records of what it was like in the 50s and 60s, leading to the Civil Rights movement. I’ve read of the Klan, of the death threats….. but what I hadn’t read, until now, was someone’s first hand account.
This book will grab you and make you hold on tight. The story this woman tells of how she was a “first” at so many things in her life — trying to integrate into a society that thought segregation was the only way to live, going to university, going to grad school, being a single mom, getting jobs where she felt “other” not only because of her skin colour but also because of her gender — it’ll grip you.
I know I’ve experienced a great deal of fear in my life, but as I read this I realized I’ve really had very little to actually be afraid of. That’s not the point of the book, however, because Melba offers the wisdom she learned from her Grandmother throughout, and with every story of some sort of atrocious experience that would surely knock my foundation down at the knees, she tells of how she trusted God, trusted Jesus, and lived as though the protection of God were real (and it is)!
One of my favourite parts of the book, and what I found most encouraging, were the little nuggets of summary that she included at the end of each chapter. My story may not resemble that of Melba Patillo Beals’ in any way. I’ll never know what it’s like to live her story. But I do know what it’s like to live mine, and fear has no place here either. I can take just as much encouragement from her words, and from how she did not bow to fear, as anyone else can.
“… no matter what threatening evidence appears to be true, we need not fear because God is always beside us.” (p. 165)
“As complex and dangerous as a predicament may be, God is as close as our skin. Although peril feels like forever, God is here now. He will guide us through the jungle of fear, if we only listen and obey.” (p. 189)
I highly recommend this book. It’s not long, only 200 pages, so it’s a short read. And it’s written in a way that leaves you wanting to hear more of Melba’s story, to know that it comes to a happy ending just like we always wish. Melba Patillo Beals is a remarkable woman of faith, and we would all do well to stand in the face of adversity and fear like she did and declare “not today.”
Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.