One of my favorite passages from the Chronicles of Narnia is in A Horse and His Boy, when Shasta is traveling over the mountains in the dead of night, all alone. Or so he thought.

Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock….He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying.

The darkness shielded Shasta’s eyes so that he couldn’t tell what or who was beside him. Although afraid, he questioned and welcomed the companion. He opened up to this strange beast and with it by his side, the night passed more quickly than he could have hoped. The morning dawn crept up on him, revealing a magnificent Lion, taller than his horse, and he knew he was in the presence of Aslan, High King of all high kings of Narnia.

And then Aslan was gone.

Wondering if it was all a dream, Shasta looked behind him to see that in the night, Aslan had led him through the treacherous passes of the mountains between Archenland and Narnia, and he was grateful for his uninvited guest.

I love this passage because Shasta was terribly afraid of the dark, but what was much more terrifying, when it came down to it, was what was lurking in the dark. Although he couldn’t see Aslan beside him, he was comforted by the breath and presence of the great Lion. What I love even more is that once the darkness dissolved into light, Shasta found out Who he feared, Aslan, had kept him from another terror, falling off the cliffs of the high and rocky mountain passes.

Life is like that. We fear the unknown lain before us, not even realizing there’s so much more going on that we could fear. We sweat the little things and let the big things roll over us. We fear the dark when it’s what’s in the darkness that is the true threat.

Like Shasta, we can’t always see or identify our fears, but doesn’t make them any less real. Just because the darkness momentarily blinds us to the truth doesn’t mean the sun won’t eventually rise. It’s what we do in the interim that matters.

When was the last time you realized your fears? Truly recognized them and faced them down? Oftentimes, when we summon the courage to face our fears, we are actually rewarded in the end by some unexpected boon. If Shasta had run away from his uninvited guest like his instinct first told him, he may have never made it over the mountains. Instead, he embraced his fears and was pleasantly surprised by what he found.

The next time you find yourself afraid, I challenge you to invite your fears in. Get to know them. Wait for the light of day to reveal them for what they really are. You might just be pleasantly surprised.