"Steady yourself, and when you're ready, go ahead and release the safety and then pull the trigger slowly," my friend instructed. I was a little shaky, but I followed the instructions exactly as directed. This was too dangerous for me to take lightly and mess up. I learned to shoot a gun this past weekend. I'm sure some of you are completely in shock, others might be saying "it's about time girl". Whatever your feelings, this was something that I needed to do for my own sanity. I've had a fear of guns for quite awhile, and I fully believe the fear was there for several reasons:
1. I didn't know how to operate a gun. Therefore, even looking at one brought great fear.
2. What if I learned to shoot and ended up messing up? I could seriously hurt or even kill someone.
3. I was completely naive about guns in general.
Before I shot that first bullet, a friend of mine and my husband, made sure that I knew and understood the piece of equipment that was in my hand. They explained the parts of the gun, the bullets that were being used, how to load the bullets, how to operate the gun safely, how to hold the pistol, where to stand in relation to the target, etc. I spent a lot of time preparing to make that first shot. When at last these two men could trust me to fire the gun, I steadied myself, aimed the pistol, and prepared to fire...I was as ready as I was going to be. A little shaky, but not overwhelmingly so, I pulled the trigger. I actually hit the target...maybe not the bullseye, but the target none-the-less. Not too bad I thought. I was ready to try again...a little less nervous this time...ready, aim, fire...I hit the target again! I did this for a full round of bullets. Still trusting that I would follow instruction, I was told that I could move onto learning a bigger pistol - one with more punch! The nerves set in again. Could I really do this? If they trusted me, surely I could handle it! And...yet again...I learned as much about the new pistol as I could and fired another round of bullets. This one was much louder and jerked me a little more, but by the time I was done - my confidence increased, and my fear over guns decreased. One more time, I was invited to try another gun...this time, a black powder rifle. Seriously? I can't believe they think I can actually do this. Well, why not give it a try. And...I did. I only shot it once, but the fact remains that I did it! Surprisingly, I was closer to the bullseye with this shot than I was with any of my pistol firings.
Still tickled at my accomplishments over the weekend, I began thinking about the process that lead me to have that success. First of all, I acknowledged the fear. Secondly, I was willing to take instruction from others trained to teach me. Additionally, I never pushed it to the point that I attempted to do more than I was entrusted to do. I suddenly had an "ah-ha moment". This is exactly what God has been doing in and through me. He's been preparing me to fulfill His purpose for me on this earth. I've acknowledged my fear (repeatedly, actually). The instruction part took a long time for me, because I've had to learn some things the hard way. He's the best teacher, though, and He's patient and always willing to re-teach me the things that I didn't get the first time. But, perhaps the greatest lesson I took away from all of this is that God is also readying me, preparing to aim me, and when He can fully trust me...He will fire me out of the chamber. He may start small, and when I'm comfortable at each level, and when He's certain that I'm ready for the next one - He'll ready me once again. In the meantime, I need to not try to do more than I'm entrusted and prepared to do.
I pray that I don't let fear grip me to the point that I'm unteachable. I pray that I remain a keen student, and I pray that I remain trustworthy to carry out God's mission and purpose for me. I especially pray that I don't waste this life He's given and entrusted to me!