I hate fear. No, that’s too mild, I loathe and despise fear with every fiber of my being. That’s still too mild, there are no words strong enough to describe how much I hate fear.
I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill fear, like the fear of driving on a one-lane-road with a cliff on one side and a mountain on the other. That’s a fear I can live with because I’m rarely in that predicament, and fear keeps me off of that road.
No, I’m talking about the subtle sneak-into-your-life-and-slowly-paralyze-you fear. It is fear that, like a weed, shows up small, innocuous, almost invisible, but whose roots reach down and are intertwined with the gates of hell.
This is the fear I’ve been battling recently, and it has been a hard-fought battle. You see, a while back I had a thought, the kind of thought you know you would never think all by yourself, and I immediately knew this thought was an assignment from God.
My heart started pounding, my palms got sweaty, I was almost hyperventilating, and I said, “God, you’ve got to be kidding! Me? This? There’s no way!” But almost as suddenly I felt a calm come over me as I sensed God saying, “Yes. Way. You and me. With me, you can do this.”
A sense of excitement and energy flowed through me, and I knew this was my God giving me an assignment and I could hardly wait to begin. The fear of disappointing the God whom I love and adore propelled and compelled me to begin.
Each day as I would begin working I understood the truth of John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” And every evening I rejoiced that “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13). God had me on an amazing adventure!
But one day, I had a thought, “What will other people think of me?” A little seed of doubt and fear landed in the well-tilled soil of my sub-conscience.
I had a choice, pluck it out, or fertilize it with heavy doses of self-doubt.
And then I had another thought, “What will people think of this project?” I should have reached for the Round-Up at that moment, but I didn’t. I started feeding the ugly weed of fear by letting my imagination run wild conjuring up scenarios of rejection and humiliation.
And then I had another thought, “What qualifies you to do this?” By now, the roots of that ugly weed were knocking on the door of hell, and sure enough, when I shared what I was working on with an acquaintance, the first thing she asked was, “How are you qualified to do this?”
What qualifies me? God! But that’s not the response I gave.
Because I had nurtured the fear-of-what-others-think weed instead of the glorious holy-and-awesome-fear-of-God flower in my life, I stumbled through a list of personal, professional and academic accomplishments, none of which sounded very impressive in the moment, and fear took over the garden of my soul, choking out obedience.
I hate fear. Fear kept me from obedience, contentment, peace, joy and from moving forward. Fear kept me from intimacy with God. I knew every single day that as I met with God in my quiet time that my soul was shrouded in the darkness of fear and disobedience. Fear and faith cannot coexist.
While fear is nurtured by self-focus; faith is nurtured with God-focus. Faith confesses fear as the sin it is. Faith repents of fear. Faith gets back to work. Faith embraces a holy fear of God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:10 NIV
Sometimes, I may still feel like I’m driving up a one-lane-road with a cliff on one side and a mountain on the other, but I know that God is there to catch me if I fall. And it’s ok to fall because falling is not failing. I don’t need to fear failure, because I don’t believe God calls us to failure.
I believe that if God calls you or me to a task, it will be successful. However, we must be prepared to accept that it is God’s purpose in the task that will be successful; and that may not necessarily be what you or I think the success should be.
What has God called you to do? Is it outside your comfort zone? Which do you fear most — What God thinks? Or what other people will think? Whose opinion directs your obedience? Whose opinion lasts for all eternity?
Are you fertilizing faith or fear in your life?