When I was in 2nd grade, my family moved closer to our school. One day, my mom, brothers, and I were walking home together. As we rounded the corner to our street, there was a lion that came out of nowhere, and started running straight toward me! Okay, it wasn’t really a lion, but one of those dogs that look like a lion- orange with a mane around its face.
My eight-year-old self saw a lion that was trying to attack me, and I took off running as fast as my little legs could carry me all the way home. I can still hear my mom calling out behind me, trying to tell me it was okay, but my brain did not compute that I was okay in my current situation. No matter what anyone said, I was not going to stop running.
You see…fear isn’t all bad. In fact, I would argue fear is a natural and healthy response. (If you are ever confronted by a lion, please run!) Fear sets off an alarm in our minds (the fight or flight response) telling us we aren’t safe and we need to do something about it.
The dictionary definition of fear: “An emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger.”
BUT…in a society where communication is more accessible, we hear and see danger playing out all around the world. We start bringing that into our minds and what we “see” is not reality at all. Before we know it, the emotion of a very real danger starts popping up in our mind even when there is no real danger in front of us.
- We envision someone trying to break into our home.
- We imagine our spouse getting into a car accident.
- We think our kids are unsafe at school.
This is when things get confusing. If we aren’t careful, fear will creep its way into our minds, our hearts, and start to wreak havoc on whatever is in its way. We become afraid of everything, and anyone we don’t already know becomes a suspect.
Fear can lead us to live in isolation, wall ourselves off from the world, and stay in our safe, makeshift world cutting out anything that “feels” unsafe (That list growing longer by the day.).
While God may have created our bodies to run faster when a wild animal confronts us, He didn’t create us to live in fear. He does not want us shrinking back when danger is encroaching, but push forward with faith being confident He can/will get us to the other side.
While there is a physical side to fear, there is also a spiritual one. It’s pretty obvious, evil and wickedness are everywhere. Satan has power, sin runs rampant, and there really can be so much to fear.
A couple of weeks ago now, there was another school shooting in South Carolina- a first grader was shot, and died days later. My youngest son is in first grade, and watching that play out can make it a little harder to drop him off at school the next day.
To be honest, if I wasn’t a following Jesus, I might not drop my kids off at school. I might rather keep them home. I would be so much more afraid. And maybe I should be.
The ONLY reason I have not to fear is my faith. It is my faith ALONE that keeps me focused on the possibilities of what could happen when I fight through fear rather than the being a victim of it. I am so confident that God is in control of my life (and my kids’ life), and have no doubt that I can/will find refuge in Him no matter what situation I find myself in- or what the news reports tell me this evening.
Jesus’ death and resurrection took away the sting of death. I have nothing to fear. Maybe you’ve heard that before, maybe you haven’t. But, that’s such an important place to live- free from the grip of fear. And sometimes we have to keep going back to that one truth over and over again until it sinks deep down into our soul.
Jesus is the reason we don’t have to live in fear anymore.
Not because everything is going to be okay, because it might not be. But because He can be trusted- with my life and my kid’s lives, no matter what happens around me.
Without Jesus, I have every reason to fear. And before I completely surrendered my life to Him, I wasn’t confident at all. I was terrified.
I spent so many years as a teen/twenty-something scared of death. I would often fixate on the purpose of life- even at one point feeling like it was a curse to have been born if I was just going to die eventually. What is the point?, I thought. To be born, struggle through life trying to please a God that was impossible to please, die a painful death, and then be judged for all the things I didn’t get right. I just didn’t get the whole point of existence if that was the result. (I’ve never been short on introspection.). Sometimes you just need to understand it deep down in your soul.
God took me on a long journey (that’s for another post) to get me to a place where I can look at life and say, There is a point to all of this, and then be able to look at death and say, You don’t scare me.
My life group (a small group of about ten women) is currently studying the book of Daniel. Recently we discussed Chapter 3 (the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace). In our discussion, we talked about how these three men were unwavering in their conviction and their faith. In fact, Scripture says they were “ready for the test”.
Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to defend our actions in this matter. We are ready for the test. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected. (Daniel 3:17)
Their faith was steady. Maybe they were shaking in their boots walking up to the furnace, but they walked boldly into that furnace.
We know the end of the story, but they didn’t. In fact, maybe they expected to be martyrs for their faith. God doesn’t seem to rescue everyone from death. Some die for their faith, some he rescues. The first name that comes to mind is Jim Elliot. How can any who knows his story not doubt that God used that man’s death to bring many to salvation?
Would I be able to do that? That’s the question I ask myself. Could I make a decision knowing it could cost me my life? What would it take for me to be ready? To be able to look directly into the fiery furnace knowing that my convictions may land me there, yet remain steady.
I often pay attention to what is going on across the globe so I can put myself in someone else’ shoes. Someone who is doing this very thing and imagine what it might be like. There’s an organization working in Iraq and Libya right now called Preemptive Love. I follow people (and organizations like them) on social media so I can be aware of what their reality is & what they are willing to do in spite of fear. These people are in the middle of a war-stricken land, serving those who are displaced by ISIS and ISIS itself (our enemy). They take the whole “love your enemy” very literally. Let me tell you how much of a wake up call that is for me. My fear pales in comparison to what these people are living in as I sit on twitter in my cozy home struggling with my five kids bickering and back talking. This helps keep me grounded and helps me with the question I ask myself, “Would I even be willing?”
I don’t want to live in fear of dropping my kids off at school every day. But, if I’m not careful I will be.
While God created inside of us a natural instinct of fear, He doesn’t intend for it to stop us. The Enemy does and he uses our fears against us- magnifying them to the point where we feel like we have real and imminent danger all around us. Fear is a tool Satan uses to destroy us- making us afraid of everything.
Jesus says, The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. (John 10:10)
With this understanding as a foundation, it helps me make better decisions when fear approaches. Jesus has an abundant life for me. He has the power to rescue and conquer the seemingly impossible. I don’t want to get to heaven and find out I missed out on all that He wanted for me down here- even if it means a few battle wounds along the way, even if I’m hobbling over the finish line, I want to lay it all out on the line here rather than trying to play it safe day-in and day-out.
It’s okay to be a little scared. It’s okay to not want to jump into the fiery furnace, but I don’t want to let it keep me from the very thing God put me on this Earth to do.
- Great things happen on the other side of fear.
- Great families come on the other side of our fear.
- Great kids come on the other side of our fear.
- Great ministry comes on the other side of our fear.
- Great companies come on the other side of our fear.
Speaking may be scary, church-planting may be scary, parenting may be scary, starting a new business can be scary, writing may be scary.
Whatever it is God’s gifted you to do, whoever it is God’s called you to raise/serve/speak to, do it- even if you’re scared, and watch God do the impossible.