In the grip of FEAR – How to find Courage
Is your FEAR holding you back from being who you were always meant to be? Doing what you were always meant to do? Do you ever wish you could just “get over it” already? Stop worrying so much?
Sometimes in our lives all we can see are the waves and the wind and our tiny little boat being tossed to pieces. We see only setbacks, failure, and obstacles. We see our best efforts being “wasted” against powers too great for us to combat. (Read also: Super-Human Strength) We see ourselves drowning already and yet somehow, someway, God has the audacity to ask more from us.
Lord, do you not care that we are perishing? … Why are you so afraid? He asked, Do you still have no faith” ~ Mark 4:37-40
God’s Plan, Not Mine
God is well known for asking normal people to do crazy things.
He asked Noah to build a giant boat on land (Genesis 6). He asked Joseph to be sold into slavery just so that eventually he could interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams and save the Israelite’s from famine (Genesis 37). He asked Abraham to leave his homeland (Genesis 12) and to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22). He asked Moses to free the Israelites when He was exiled from Egypt (Exodus 3). He asked Job to endure meaningless suffering just to prove a point to the devil (Job 1). He asked a shepherd boy to slay a giant (1 Samuel 17) and to become the greatest King of Israel (1 Samuel 16). He asked Judith to take down an entire army by herself (Judith 13). He asked a young girl to be the mother of His son (Luke 1:26-38), and an ordinary man to protect them both (Matthew 1:20), even if it meant fleeing with them to Egypt in the middle of the night. He asked a young boy for what he had in order to feed 5,000 (Matthew 14). He asked his only Son to die an unmerited death on a cross (Not my will but Thine be done – Luke 22:42)
He His plans are totally reckless, intense, “insane”, and amazing all at the same time. He wants us to do more than we think we can do. He has such high hopes and dreams for us that we cannot even imagine them… and yet, this is what keeps us from achieving them.
We try to limit God to our imagination. We think we are open to His will as long as it fits into our plans. “Sure, I will volunteer at the church one hour a month as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me or cost me anything.” “Sure, I will tithe as long as it doesn’t ‘hurt’ me financially.” “Sure, I will proclaim I am a Christian when I’m around fellow Christians.” “Sure, I will have a kid, just not 6 (or 8 or 12…).” “Sure, I will do ‘the normal’ for God as long as I can still drive my nice car, live in my nice house, and sleep in my comfy bed.”
But the closer we get to God we start to realize He doesn’t just want normal. He wants more! He will never be satisfied with an hour of our time, He wants ALL of it. He will never be appeased by a few dollars here and there, He wants EVERY cent! He will never be satisfied with a piece of our hearts, He wants EVERYTHING.
He wants our love for Him to be the same as His love for us: FREE, TOTAL, FAITHFUL, and FRUITFUL.
What holds us back from giving Him more?
What if I have to give something up? What if it’s not fun? What if people think I’m crazy? What if I lose friends? What if I have to change jobs? Homes? Lifestyles? What if it means I have to give up my control? What if my family …? What if …?
In short, what if it affects me?
Fear is an emotion
Emotion is a liar. Emotions are selfish, self-serving. If we base our lives on our first emotions, the enemy can use them to manipulate us (Read also: Spiritual warfare). They are like the shifting sands in the parable of the foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-27) Emotions are the tool most commonly used by the enemy to manipulate us into doing whatever He wants. But, he cannot touch any of our “higher faculties”, such as intellect and will. He cannot force us to do anything, he can only make us feel things about certain topics to hopefully sway our opinions and choices on certain matters.
We have to be careful about relying on the emotions that come and go for our stability. We need stability, a rock, something to cling to and climb up amongst the waves. Only God is unchanging.
FEAR – the single most prevalent attitude preventing us from a strong relationship with God
Do not be afraid, Mary! – Luke 1:30
Is God asking something of you that you feel is impossible? If you are starting to get close to Him, he probably is. Whether it be finding an extra 5 minutes to an hour of prayer time with Him each day or something more serious, like conquering an addiction, changing jobs, homes or lifestyles. The Lord is always asking something of you that you think is impossible.
Fear is often caused by lack of understanding
How can this be since I do not know man? ~ Luke 1:34
You probably don’t know how in the world this “thing” He is asking from you could ever work out. You may not know what it will cost or how you will ever pay for it. You may not have any idea if you are just making it all up in your head… Hint: maybe you are (if your plan is selfish in any way)…. But, the odds are, if it was something you never would have come up with on your own, its mostly about the “others” in your life, and it sounds crazy and amazing all at the same time – it’s probably God.
Fear can be overcome
But the angel [essentially] answered her – By God’s power anything is possible ~ Matthew 19:26
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. ~ Luke 1:35
He didn’t explain anything! She asked “How?”, and He answered GOD WILL DO IT. Simply. Plainly. No more explanations, no more details.
What did she do?
Acceptance born of trust and love
It was like what the angel said MEANT something to her!!! Her attitude immediately changes from one of confusion to being completely on board with the plan (which was NO clearer).
Let it be done to me according to thy word… ~ Luke 1:38
What was it that she accepted? It certainly wasn’t that she all of a sudden understood the plan, grasped the plan, or had time to “plan for the new plan”. She simply accepted the power of God!!! She accepted his power to do the impossible and to fill in all the blanks.
[tweetshare tweet=”God will do the impossible in you (if you let Him)!” username=”CarolynMPereira”]
She had much to fear.
You’ve probably heard it all – societal plus marital rejection and, most likely, death, not to mention all the unknowns. But did it stop her?
But the Holy Spirit came upon her – and what does the Holy Spirit bring??
What did He bring in the upper room?
Do you have as much to fear as them?
This is the era of the Holy Spirit!
I will pray to the Father for you and He will send you another Counselor to be with you always ~ John 14:16
The Old Testament was the “era” of the Father. The New Testament was the “era” of the son. Once He ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. This is His “era” now! Let’s take advantage!
Get to know the Holy Spirit
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~ Galatians 5:22-23
How do all these “fruits” help us if COURAGE is not listed? Clue: Each of the above fruits take our focus off ourselves and our immediate desires to focus first more on the benefit of others (love, kindness, generosity, gentleness) or unconditional acceptance of God’s will (peace, patience, faithfulness). Joy comes as a result of recognizing the deeper benefits of these qualities and practices that we couldn’t have seen without learning how to put ourselves second.
It is no coincidence that LOVE is listed first. In love we prioritize what is best for the person that we love rather than how it affects us.
This is why love does not count the costs.
Our crosses lose their power over us if we look at them through eyes of love and not through a lens of “what it costs me”. If we don’t think about what it costs, all we can see is the joy of giving.
Perfect love casts out all fear ~ 1 John 4:18
Choose love over fear
Fear is caused by focusing on ourselves – by worrying about what might happen to ME. Love is focused on others, what good might my sacrifice do for someone else, what can I offer to support God’s plan or further His kingdom?
Yes, you are afraid…
Don’t deny that. Don’t pretend it isn’t there. This is scary stuff. This is the unknown. This is not part of “our plan”. This is a big deal, a life-changingly big deal. You MUST acknowledge your fear in order to overcome it. Ask for His help to love anyway, to step out of the boat anyway, to trust anyway. (Read also: Giving God EVERYTHING)
Yes, it will be hard.
Don’t deny that. Embrace it. Read also: Will God’s will Make me Happy? Recognize the difficulty as something that makes you stronger. Recognize it as purification (Psalm 66:10). Recognize it as an opportunity to prove your love and your commitment. Recognize it as an opportunity to imitate Him in His self-sacrifice. Recognize it as a confirmation of your call to be numbered among the greats.
No, you may never understand
(except maybe in hindsight)… But that’s how we can know it was His plan and His miracle in the first place!
But, the biggest question is, what really matters? Will you say yes?
When was the last time you chose love over fear? Share your story below to encourage others or to ask for encouragement in a choice you are going through now!