“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
My pastor has told our congregation before that the issues he deals with and prayer requests he receives are often based upon fear on one level or another. I understand this comment because I have personally seen how fear can take hold of my own life. All this to say, if you struggle with fear in some capacity then you are certainly not alone!
Something I read recently in the book, Taming the To-Do List, really resonated with me. It felt like the author had gotten inside my head and was describing my inmost thoughts on the subject of fear. Therefore, the following section could have easily been written from my perspective instead of her own:
“Fear of change and the unknown has kept me from doing many things in my life. Thankfully God has brought a lot of healing into my heart and uncovered some of the roots of my fear. Fear no longer has a grip on my life. But because of the fear I’ve experienced, I understand its power to keep us shackled to what’s comfortable and known. Fear makes me withdraw, put up walls, and hunker down until the danger has passed. However, God’s calling on our lives, and His best for us, are seldom found in safe zones.”
Why do I identify with this passage so much? For one, I also often “play it safe” but not necessarily because I’m trying to be discerning or responsible. No, it’s simply because I’m afraid. I’ll stay with what is known in my life even when I am miserable just because I want to avoid change and all the unknown factors that come with it. I have also used (and sometimes still use) at one time or another all the coping mechanisms which the author touched upon.
However, as the quote also addresses, I realize how far God has brought me on this journey as well. The more risks I take as I step out into what I feel is God’s story for my life, the easier it is for me to do so the next time. This has helped me learn to say with confidence: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
I should clarify that the book does differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fear. And so far I have been talking about the unhealthy fear in my life. Not a healthy fear born out of rational, God-centered decision-making but an unhealthy fear which takes God out of the equation altogether.
“If left unaddressed, unhealthy fear causes us to slam on the brakes when we should be pressing the gas. It causes us to play it safe when we should be stepping out in faith. And it causes us to delay doing whatever we think might cause us fear … I’m convinced this is not God’s plan. He doesn’t want us to live our lives making choices to avoid fear. In fact, God doesn’t want us to be afraid at all. He wants our trust in Him to be so complete that we will walk into the unknown with confidence.
However, God also knows us. He knows fear is a big part of our lives. That’s why He addressed it many times in His Word … God told Abraham, “Do not be afraid.” God told Issac, “Do not be afraid.” God told Jacob, “Do not be afraid.” God told Moses, “Do not be afraid.” God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid.” I could go on. Why do you think God had to tell the heroes of our faith not to be afraid? It’s because they were afraid!” (Taming the To-Do List)
Therefore, it seems being afraid is not always the issue. Instead, sometimes we just need to have courage to push forward in the midst of our fear. And we shouldn’t pretend to others that we have no problems in this area either. After all, we learn in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
So while the ideal is to live our lives in Christ unafraid, God knows we are broken, flawed human beings who often operate out of fear. And the beauty is that He can, and does, use us in spite of this – even in the midst of our fears. Amen to that! I’ll leave you with a verse from the beautiful and moving song, Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace):
“You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart, Lord
I’ll be Your vessel
The world to see
Your love in me”
**I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart today. Click on the image below to find some other great posts in the linkup too!**