You’ve had a dream that flopped. An idea that didn’t get off the ground. A passion that didn’t come to fulfillment.
I know you have.
- You wanted to write a book.
- You wanted to go to work for a non-profit.
- You wanted to start a non-profit.
- You wanted to read through the Bible in a year.
- You wanted to pray every day.
- You wanted to save enough money to go on a mission trip.
- You wanted to audition for a part in a play.
- You wanted to open your own business.
- You wanted to start, and maintain, a blog.
- You wanted to launch a small group.
- You wanted to learn a new language.
You started the process. And somewhere along the way, it lost its cool factor. Someone challenged you. Someone laughed at you. Something didn’t go exactly as you thought it would go. Things grew difficult, and hairy, and life happened.
Dinner still had to be served. Bills still had to be paid. Deadlines still had to be met. And dreaming took a back seat.
So you stopped. You walked away. And your dream, your idea, and that thing that God called you to do is disappearing in your rear-view mirror.
You tried. Got embarrassed. Then walked away.
What does that look like, in real life? Boiled down to 7 seconds? Something like this.
This is my son, Rex. He was dancing in front of the mirror. Dancing like nobody’s watchin. Then he realizes that someone is watching, and gets embarrassed. Then walks away, glancing back as he goes.
It’s funny to watch, but kinda sad, too.
Who cares what other people think? Who cares if they laugh? Who cares if you fall flat on your face? Who cares if things don’t go exactly as you hoped they’d go?
If God’s called you to do something, do it. Ignore the haters. Ignore the cameras. Ignore the failed attempts.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
What’s God calling you to do? Be brave. Share it with us.
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
My son is a running, jumping ball of courage right now.
- He rides his 4-wheeler down our front steps.
- He jumped down 3 stairs the other day…measuring at least his height. He hit the floor, tumbled a little, and kept on running and laughing.
- Yesterday, he rode down our driveway (a fairly steep hill) as fast as he could on his little plastic truck…which was definitely not intended to be ridden as fast or as hard as he was riding it.
- He’s not afraid (usually) of talking with a complete stranger.
- He jumped off of his bed. It’s taller than he is.
He just has this courageous spirit in him. And I fight my hardest to not discipline that out of him.
Because seeing my son do courageous things thrills my heart, and I know it’s a expression of his God-given spirit of adventure. And it would be easy for me to discipline that out of him in the name of safety and order. I could demand that he not run amuck, that he play it safe, that he walk (err…jump) a more careful path.
But I am convinced that that’s not best for him in the long run. That’s simply what’s good for me and my sanity in the short-run.
I want to encourage my son to continue to take risks. Stand up to challenges. Do things nobody else is doing. Blaze his own path. Follow his dream. And live out the calling God’s placed on his life. I want to teach my son to live dangerously. It’s much easier to rein that courage in, and point it towards Christ, than to re-program a man to live dangerously. I want to encourage him to be courageous now, and reward those small feats.
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. – 1 Chronicles 28:20
Have you ever been encouraged to live dangerously?
Disagree with the idea that boys (and men) living dangerously is a good thing? Feel free to push back! Click HERE to jump in the comments!
George Washington was a courageous man.
I knew this to be true…you can’t go through the United States public school system without studying about our country’s first President. But I’ve recently been reminded of his heroism while reading 1776 by George McCullough.
In September of 1775, Boston was under siege by British troops. Washington was the commander of the American military forces (which were a mishmash of untrained and largely unorganized farmers and other Yankees), and he was ready to make a bold move to recapture Boston, ending the siege. However, there were two problems.
1. The British forces were powerful and abundant.
2. An attack on Boston, to remove the siege, could mean the destruction of the city.
But Washington wasn’t one to sit around and wait for something to happen. So he began petitioning Congress to move troops, and begin attacking the British at Boston, because he knew how strategic and valuable the city would continue to be for the future success of the Revolutionary War.
In a letter to the governor of Rhode Island, Washington said this:
No danger is to be considered when put in competition with the magnitude of the cause.
Washington was facing lots of dangers. Loss of significant lives. Loss of his power and authority. Loss of his reputation. Loss of the city of Boston. Loss of supplies. Loss of time. Loss of effort. Loss of the colonies to the British. But he was willing to not consider those dangers when he compared them to the magnitude of the cause…winning independence.
We could learn something from this, even today. Because far too often, when we count the cost, we show by our actions that we believe the task is too dangerous for us. We show fear when we don’t
- Share our faith
- Press in to know our own heart
- Have a tough conversation with a friend
- Take on that new project
- Stop and build a relationship with someone new
- Press in to know the heart of our children
- Give financially until it hurts
- Serve expecting nothing back
- Do what God’s clearly calling us to do
- Step out of our comfort zone
When we put the above in competition with the magnitude of the cause…they pale in comparison. They are still dangerous…highly dangerous. You could get burned, misunderstood, shamed, abandoned, discouraged, and broke. But, like Washington said, these dangers aren’t to be considered when we compare them with the magnitude of the cause. What is the cause that has such magnitude?
- The health of our family.
- The health of our heart. (living a life worthy of our call, Ephesians 4:1-2)
- Serving our King faithfully.
There’s nothing else greater.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 1 Timothy 1:7
Have you ever felt yourself crippled by fear?
What was it that got you going again?