When I got married, I trembled with fear. Like a shaky leaf that crunches when you step on it, I was weak and breakable and vulnerable.
I think this is common.
At least, that’s what I tell myself. It makes me feel better about my trepidation.
My fear, though, wasn’t one of questioning my decision to get married. It wasn’t founded in questioning my bride-to-be. It wasn’t even in questioning the timing.
My “fear” found its way into my pocket because the step I was making was altering the trajectory of my life.
Ever had a decision like that?
Maybe it was in deciding which college to go to. Or a change in jobs. Or walking away from a relationship that you’ve treasured, but that was damaging to you personally. Maybe you felt that flutter in your gut when you bought a car. Or a house.
Maybe it was when you found out you were pregnant, and quickly realized you had no idea what it took to be a parent.
Fear is a natural emotion.
Let me quote a Scripture for you that you may have heard before:
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Reading this verse at face-value, you’re left thinking that any ounce of fear shows you to be anti-God. That it’s not something that is consistent with being called a child of the King. That if you experience fear, you show yourself weak and faithless and un-usable.
Let me throw a wrench in that thought process before you tread down that road much further.
The verse here says that God didn’t give us a “spirit” of fear. In other words, we aren’t dominated by fear. We’re not paralyzed by fear. And we don’t let fear hold us back. It won’t be our master. Instead, our spirit, our heart, is driven by power and love and self-control, rooted in an unchanging, unshakeable, courageous God who seeks after our heart even in the midst of the most difficult times in life.
The presence of fear doesn’t show you to be anti-God. It shows you to be human. Emotions aren’t inherently evil. How you respond to your emotions, though, reveals your heart.
And if your heart is driven by fear, you’ll never do anything that matters. On the precipice of doing significant work, fear will be present, trying desperately to course its way through your body.
Yielding to the Fear
In those moments, you can yield to the fear.
- “I can’t do that. I’ll fail.”
- “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
- “I don’t have that skill set.”
- “I’m not worthy of that.”
- “I could never sustain that.”
Yield to that fear, step back off the precipice, and return to life as normal.
Or press through it, reminding yourself of who God has created you to be, and take the plunge. Remind yourself that God has given you a spirit of power and love and self-control. “Fear” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move forward. “Fear” may mean it’s time to trust God to do what He said He’d do.
Pressing through fear
Take a step of faith.
- Give up ______.
- Start a new ministry.
- Make that leadership decision.
- Begin serving your community.
- Have a difficult, awkward conversation.
Fear didn’t keep me from making the decision to marry my wife. It lit a fire in my heart to do what I knew God was calling me to.
Fear is normal. It means you’re human.
Don’t let it hold you from what God wants you to do. Satan would love that.
Instead, press through with resolve.
I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, or I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:9-10
What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make? Did you have any hint of fear?
* image credit: Creative Commons user Jones DePalma