Do you have something that terrifies you?
Maybe it’s heights, or public speaking, or snakes or death. Maybe you have phobophobia, which is fear of fear itself! (seriously, it’s a real thing!)
We all have fears that make us hesitate at times as we walk through life, but many of us have irrational fears that stop us dead in our tracks. You know, the kind of things that will make us completely change direction and go the other way?
My oldest daughter used to be terrified of ants. When she was younger, she would get hysterical and run the other direction if she saw a line of little ants marching across her path. Because of a few experiences with fire ants, she was convinced that every ant would jump up and bite her if she got too close. After 30 minutes of coaching and encouragement on one particular day, I was able to get my teary eyed 7-year-old to step over a line of sugar ants on our front walkway to get to the driveway.
If the source of your irrational fear can mostly be avoided, you can usually function well in life. You can get away with not dealing with your fear and live a pretty normal life. You can still pursue what God has called you to do as long as spiders don’t drop on you from the ceiling (you just looked up didn’t you?) or you don’t have to get on an airplane.
But what if your fear is stopping you from walking in the fullness of what God has for you?
What if you’re like my friend that has an incredible voice and feels called to worship but can’t sing in front of even her closest friends because she’s so afraid? Or my husband who, years ago, became so terrified on a turbulent flight that he got off the plane during a layover, rented a car and drove the rest of the way home?
I truly believe that God’s heart for us is to be free of all fear. I mean it. Every-Single-Fear can be wiped away and we can live our lives in complete freedom and surrender and trust. I know, this sounds too good to be true, but I really believe it because His Word is full of encouragement to do just that!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Psalms 118:6 (NLT)
God wants us to be free because when we’re bound by fear we’re held back from accomplishing His plans for our lives. It’s one of the greatest tools of the enemy, to paralyze us with irrational fears that seem so much bigger than our ability to overcome them. And there’s some truth to that. There are some things that require more than just sheer will power to overcome. There are some fears that need the power and love of Jesus to heal.
The Bible says in 1 John that perfect love expels all fear. It’s like how turning on a light in a dark room forces the darkness out. Receiving Jesus’ love and choosing to walk daily in a relationship with Him forces out fear. God’s love is POWERFUL! And it is abundant and never failing.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord! Psalms 117:2 (NLT)
When my kids cry out at night because they’re afraid, they become calm and peaceful as soon as I come to them and hold them. They trust me. They feel secure in my love and all fear leaves. That’s what God desires for our relationship with Him. That we trust Him, that we can call on Him and He will come near to us and all fear will melt away in the realization that God is SO MUCH BIGGER than our fear.
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalms 56:3 (NLT)
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 (NLT)
Now, if YOU were to go into my kid’s room and try to comfort them, it wouldn’t work. Even if you know them, they don’t know you. Even if your desire is to help them, they don’t trust you. That’s often how we are with Jesus. He loves us and wants to help us. He knows us and our fears but we have not taken the time to know Him and so we find it hard to receive His comfort.
In John 10 Jesus refers to Himself as the shepherd. He says He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him and they follow His voice. The more time we spend with Him, listening to Him, talking to Him, the more we know Him and trust Him. The more we can receive His help and healing when fear grips our lives.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
Back to my ant-fearing 7-year-old. Yes, I could have just picked her up and carried her over the ant line and been on my way. But that would have been a HUGE missed opportunity. You see, helping her AVOID her fear doesn’t help her OVERCOME her fear. Because she knows me and trusts me, I was able to give her the love and encouragement she needed to face that line of ants. When it finally clicked in her mind that those ants were not going to harm her, she stepped over them SEVERAL TIMES. She did it fearfully at first, and then timidly, and then more confidently after that. It was a huge win!
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
Overcoming our irrational fears isn’t’ an easy process but we are not alone. It’s worth it to face our fears rather than avoid them. God wants us to be free and His love can get us there.
Remember Philippians 4:6 that tells us not to worry but to pray (i.e. have a relationship with God). Here’s the next verse:
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NLT)
Go get your peace friends! Turn on the lights, expose your fear and watch Jesus do a miracle.