Whether we see ourselves as ministry leaders, parents, or people who influence others, fear can ruin our effectiveness. If we don’t find an antidote, the disease of fear will destroy the abundant life and prevent us from fulfilling God’s great purposes for us.
Isn’t fear really at the heart of stress and worry? We fear the worst case scenario and become anxious and tense. So we work harder to earn money, fix the problem, take control, prevent the disease, or please others.
Fear can paralyze us, preventing us from obeying God, but it doesn’t have to. I was afraid when I left the staff of my home church to serve elsewhere. Then I was afraid when God led me away from there. If BOW sends me to Africa this summer, I will go despite my fear, not of danger but of unknown people and situations.
Each time I speak, I fear that my audience will not like me, that I won’t do a good job, or even that they won’t like my clothes. When I lead anything, fear of failure is always lurking. I was scared to death when I had children—especially as I projected into their future teenage years. I prayed that Jesus would return before my daughter turned 13!
When fear overwhelms parents, we may become helicopters– swooping in to rescue our children from the consequences of poor decisions or bad actions, and perhaps destroying the character-building process.
Instead of giving sacrificially to God’s work on earth, we often let our fear of poverty or future finances control our pocketbooks.
How do we overcome fears that prevent us from following God—fear of what others will say, fear of people, fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of consequences, and on and on and on?
Recently I was at a conference where we heard a number of stories in the gospels over and over. As I listened to one after the other, I noticed how often Jesus addressed fear. And in most cases, faith was the contrast, even the antidote.
Why? Faith turns our focus from our fears to the great, all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving God. As I heard those familiar stories of Jesus, I could see myself there as Jesus spoke, “Do not fear but have faith” (Mark 5:36).
When fear threatens to motivate me, I intend to read more of the familiar stories of the Bible to remind me of how small I am and how big God is. The God who rose from the dead is with me in any storm, and he will catch me when I step off a cliff. I need to trust him.
What fears are at work in your life? What Bible stories build your faith?