Walk in Faith, Not Fear

It was a perfect day for a hike. My husband picked out the trail, a 31-minute drive from our house. The rock pathway stretched out before us, inviting us to enjoy the beauty of nature. The sheered basalt cliffs framed the area on both sides. The trees, bushes, and flowers burst forth with the colors of spring. A creek meandered from the west, its water adding to the melody of the birds. Our excursion was out-of-this-world, a small taste of heaven.

Two men came walking toward us. They had finished their walk and were heading to the parking area. They stopped just after passing us with a warning. “We saw a rattler back there. She was coiled up near a rock. Looked like she was guarding some eggs. Better keep an eye out.”

My husband and I thanked them and continued walking. Nothing had changed about that idyllic setting, except everything had changed. The fear of encountering a fierce rattlesnake overshadowed my enjoyment. My spidey-senses (or should I say snakey-senses) were on high alert and my adrenaline went soaring.

It took every ounce of my strength to keep from calling quits on our outing. Each step felt like one step closer to disaster. Every rock was a rattlesnake lair. The tree roots were hiding places. The dried leaves were molted snake skin. Broken branches lying on the path were serpents.

Jonathan was in front of me on the lookout for danger, and I lagged further and further behind. In desperation, I quoted Scripture about God’s love being greater than fear. I even shouted out part of Mark 16. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (verses 17-18 NIV). 

My pulse slowed. I breathed easier. And then, a snake crossed in front of Jonathan! I cried out in dismay. It was a harmless bull snake. Nonetheless, it launched me back into the cycle of fear.

As my body settled down yet again, I realized I was so focused on impending doom that I was missing out on the Creator’s artistry. I had been oblivious to the surrounding majesty. So, in spite of the fear, I forced my gaze upward to the trees and cliffs. I studied the water dancing along the creek bed. My soul drank deeply of the beauty. The sense of fear diminished as I paid more attention to God’s spectacular creation.

I wonder how often the fear of “what might be” robs us from experiencing the blessings God has for us right now. Do we miss out on the exciting possibilities of the future because we are paralyzed by dread? Perhaps the Lord has planted a vision in your heart for yourself or your family or your ministry. Don’t allow the potential risks to overwhelm you from taking the next steps of trusting obedience. This doesn’t mean you ignore danger signs but you must not allow them to deprive you of present and future joys.

If we encounter obstacles along the way (and we most likely will), it isn’t the time to quit. We must continue to trust the Lord to direct our steps towards His will, to walk in faith instead of fear.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

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 NLT).

When God’s people obey, God shows up in a big way.

By Julian Jagenberg @pexels.com

Joshua led the Israelite army to march around the formidable city of Jericho. The Lord had instructed him to place seven priests and the Ark of the Covenant at the front of the line. Nobody was to make a sound for six days. On the seventh day, seven priests were to blow the trumpets. Only then could the army shout. (See Joshua 6:1-27.)

Gideon led 300 Israelite soldiers to fight the vast army of Midian. Under the Lord’s command, he sent about 32,000 men home. Gideon divided the soldiers into three companies of 100 soldiers each. Upon the signal, the men were to break their jars with torches inside and blow their trumpets, shouting “For the Lord and for Gideon.” (See Judges 7:1-25.)

Paul and Silas traveled to the city of Philippi after receiving a vision from the Lord. Several days later, they were beaten and thrown into jail because they were considered a public menace when a slave woman was delivered from the fortune-telling spirits that made her master money. At about midnight, with their feet in stocks, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God loudly enough for the other prisoner to hear. (See Acts 16:6-40.)

These three distinct stories share a common theme of obedience. Joshua and Gideon were both given unusual battle plans. Both men followed the Lord’s orders. God performed mighty miracles and the Israelites won incredible victories.

Paul and Silas went to the place God had told them to go, but after only making one recorded disciple, they were falsely accused and put in jail. Instead of having a pity party and moping about their unfair circumstances, the two Jesus followers decided to praise the Lord. A divine visitation shook the jail, setting all the prisoners free. When the jailer went to check out the situation, none of the prisoners had escaped (a huge miracle by itself). As a result, the jailer and his entire household put their faith in Jesus.

God’s people obeyed, and God showed up in a huge way!

By Andrea Piacquadio @pexels.com

In the middle of obeying, it didn’t make sense. There were plenty of occasions for doubt to creep in and to quit before the plan was completed.

Joshua’s army could have stop marching before the seventh day. They might have felt silly marching silently around Jericho. But they persevered.

Gideon’s men could have decided to join all the others who had gone home. What chance did they have against the Midianites? But they didn’t give up.

Paul and Silas could have lamented about what a waste of time it had been to come to Philippi in the first place. How could the Lord have planned for them to land in jail? But they trusted Him instead.

However, in each situation, when they looked back, they could see the unmistakable intervention of God.

The walls of Jericho fell and the city was captured.

The Midianite army was soundly defeated.

The Lord visited the jail and a prominent family in Philippi was saved. (The Bible doesn’t say, but I wonder how many prisoners gave their lives to Jesus that night?)

What has God asked you to do?

What next step do you need to take to move forward in obedience?

Take courage, my friend.

It might not make sense in the middle. It might not be easy. But don’t give up.

As you obey the Lord’s leading, expect Him to show up. That’s the kind of God He is.

Special thanks to my son, Jason Babcock, for sharing a devotional that inspired me to write this.