I can honestly say that Fear is Never Our Friend by Gary L. Richardson has helped to change my life for the better. After reading it for the first time late last year I realized how much I was letting fear control my decisions and thought processes and how many of my thoughts were negative and unhelpful.
There are several key points that Mr. Richardson makes in his book which I feel are absolutely vital knowledge for anyone who wants to live life to the fullest and go beyond the meek and timid lifestyle that many of us settle for.
The first one happens to be the title of the book; fear is never our friend. I know some of you are probably thinking that fear is actually very helpful in certain situations but if you think it through it really is not. Knowledge and wisdom are helpful; fear never is unless it’s the fear of almighty God which Mr. Richardson also discusses in his book.
Knowledge and wisdom are your best friends in any situation, dangerous or not. It is knowledge that tells you that encountering a snake in the woods is possibly dangerous while fear just tells you to panic and either freeze up or run away. Fear is an emotional response that we can learn to control when we have the proper knowledge. Mr. Richardson does an excellent job with this point and if it were the only point he made then the book would still be worth reading. Fortunately, it is not because he is just getting started.
Based on the premise that fear is never our friend is the realization that we cannot make a decision based on faith and a decision based on fear at the same time. These two things cannot coexist. We either choose to live out our days exercising our faith (and yes, faith is like a muscle, it grows with use) or we choose to let fear guide our decision making.
Mr. Richardson believes that fear is an epidemic in the world today and I agree with him. For many, fear guides their steps without them even realizing it. I know that before I read Fear is Never Our Friend that I had been living in the shadow of fear and anxiety for many years.
Here is an example. For over a decade I had a nervous habit whereby I would either rub or pick the cuticles of my thumbs, often without even realizing it. I called it nervous energy but the reality is that it was anxiety manifesting in a physical habit. When sitting beside my wife in the evening while watching TV she would often place one of her hands on top of mine to get me to be still so prevalent was my habit. Usually, until she did this, I would not even be aware that I was doing it.
In the last few months I had started to wrap a band-aid around my thumbs to let them heal . It worked as long as the band-aid was on but when removed I would go right back to the same bad habit. In other words, the underlying problem was still there.
I re-read Fear is Never Our Friend a few weeks ago in preparation for this review and got just as much out of it the second time as I did the first time last year. This time the Lord spoke to me about my anxiety through Mr. Richardson and his discussion of Philippians 4:6 which starts “Be anxious for nothing”.
Mr. Richardson posed the question “Do you think Paul was making a request or stating a directive when he wrote that? And if it is a directive (it is) then was Paul asking us to do something impossible? And if you think it is impossible then you only need to look 7 verses down in Philippians to verse 13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
In other words it is completely possible to live an anxiety free life and this is in fact a directive for one who claims to be a child of God!
The first time I read Fear is Never Our Friend I learned to recognize my fear and to choose the path of faith instead. It is the reason that this blog exists and the reason that I have acknowledged God’s call on my life to ministry. The second time I read Fear is Never Our Friend I learned to recognize my anxiety and to turn it over to God. Now, whenever I am tempted to exercise that old nervous habit I state “I will be anxious for nothing”.
It may sound like a small thing but the underlying issue was not and the fact is that God used Mr. Richardson’s book in my life to break me of a habit that I had been struggling with for over 10 years!
Like many of you, I knew those verses in Philippians and had read them many times. I am born again and have been in church for most of my life. But I was not applying what I had read and what I knew and it took Fear is Never Our Friend for me to finally realize what God had been trying to tell me all along.
Fear is Never Our Friend was the catalyst for a very great change in my life and I think it could be for many other people if they would read it and apply it.
Fear and anxiety are not the only 2 topics discussed in Fear is Never Our Friend. Mr. Richardson also discusses negativity, defining who we are as Christians and setting appropriate limits, failure and why it can be a good thing and more. After each chapter are questions for discussion and a summary of the most salient points.
With 7 chapters, Fear is Never Our Friend is designed to be a 7 week, small group study but can be read straight through just like any other book. I’ve read the book both ways and as I’ve stated I was blessed and encouraged both times and both times I got something different out of the book that greatly helped me in my life.
Maybe you have already conquered fear and anxiety in your life. If so, I praise the Lord for you and I pray that you are passing on your knowledge and wisdom to others because we greatly need it.
If, however, you are dealing with fear and anxiety as part of your everyday life then you absolutely need to read this book. God would not have you living in fear and reading Mr. Richardson’s book would be an excellent way to start to overcome it and to live a more joyous and abundant life.
Publisher: Hensley Publishing
Publication date: June 1, 2009