Posted in Character, Faith

Beware of Fear!

I know Jesus (NO FEAR!)
I know God (NO FEAR!)
I know Jesus, and I have got NO FEAR!
(Duff Rowden)

Years ago my worship leader friend sang this chorus at youth events. It was a fun reminder that as Christ-followers, we have victory over fear. The perfect love of God in our lives drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).

The trouble is that fear comes in many forms and is not always easily identifiable. It can be as overwhelming as a paralyzing panic attack, but it can also be as subtle as low-grade, gnawing worry. Fear is designed as an emotion to protect us from a dangerous or unwanted situation. However, it can become an obstacle to experiencing all that God desires.

I spent much of my life dominated by fear of some kind, although it may not have been apparent outwardly. What people could see was my dependability to meet deadlines and ability to perform well. They couldn’t see that my insides were tied up in knots. My driven personality was fueled by a fierce need to be in control at all times. Somehow I believed that being in control meant that fear was kept away.

It was not until I began to experience increased physical symptoms that I truly investigated the negative effects of fear. Headaches, stomach problems, chronic pain, fatigue, dizziness, and anxiety attacks prompted me to sincere soul searching.

Over time the Lord, in His great mercy, began to show me that fear was actually a key influence for my need to be in control. In spite of my external achievements, fear held me back internally and robbed me from living in God’s abundance.

Fear of rejection. My gift of connecting with others and caring for them was distorted. I became motivated to please people, spending a great deal of time concerned about making a positive impression, doing things to get noticed. It also caused me to guard my heart from the pain of rejection. I served people with one hand while protecting my heart with the other, not allowing them to get close enough to hurt me. Needless to say, this didn’t work well with my relationships at home, church, or on the job.

The remedy. I consciously focus on God’s magnificent love for me. While people matter greatly, intimacy with Jesus comes first. People’s opinions vary, and they will hurt me, usually unintentionally but sometimes on purpose. However, my security and acceptance are rooted in Jesus.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)

Fear of failure. My gifts of achievement and dependability were tarnished. I strove for perfection in everything, and felt comfortable maintaining the status quo. Taking risks felt too threatening, and it stopped the flow of creativity and innovation. I could picture negative outcomes and was weighed down by them: A plan that doesn’t work; an event nobody attends; finances drying up, a program that falls apart; my marriage unexpectedly ending. It became paralyzing, prohibiting me from enjoying the adventure of learning and growing.

The remedy. I consciously focus on being led by the Spirit of God. His definition of success is different than the world’s, and is based on obedience to Him. According to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), when we work to glorify God and further His Kingdom, we are successful. As we follow God’s direction, serving Him and others, we please the Lord, which is the ultimate success.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6).

In what ways does fear affect you? Don’t allow fear to hold you back. Experience God’s freedom in answering His call and loving those He has placed in your life.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being my Deliverer. As I seek You, You hear me and deliver me from all my fears. Open my eyes to see the ways fear has held me back. Show me the truth, and empower me to walk in Your freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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