Fear is easy. Fear is looking something hard and scary in the face and running in the opposite direction. Fear is avoidance and staying hidden in the shadows of life. Fear does not confront. Fear is rarely truthful. Fear is a cousin to lazy who always takes the path of least resistance. Fear is a thief. In truth, Fear does not sound very rewarding. So why is it that so many of us spend so much time practicing it?
Courage is tough. Courage looks something hard and scary in the face and keeps moving forward. Courage is out there. Courage requires effort and overcoming and a sense of purpose. Courage confronts and courage hopes for something better. Courage must be exercised like a muscle or it will atrophy and wither away. Perhaps this is why so many of us spend so little time being courageous.
I have recently decided to exercise my courage. Without even consciously realizing it I had been letting fear influence and guide my decision making. Who and what I am at this point in my life are in part a direct result of listening to my fear. But now, I am beginning to see and understand a better way.
As a Sunday School teacher for young adults I have opportunity to search for material for my class on the web and in stores. Late last year I came across Gary L. Richardson’s book “Fear is never our Friend”. As soon as I saw the cover and read the description I knew that this was the book that God wanted for my class. I was not yet aware of just how much I was letting fear influence me but I knew right away that I needed to read that book. And I am so glad that I did.
I learned that my “stay quiet and don’t speak or stand out” lifestyle was a direct result of being afraid of what others thought and said about me. I learned that my taking the path of least resistance in my career and in my Christian walk was really a direct result of my fear of failure. And I learned that I fear failure because I am afraid of letting down those I love and of being a disappointment to my family and friends.
God is trying to tell me to step out on faith and to take a chance and to trust Him. Satan is using my fear and telling me that God’s way is risky and that there are too many unknowns and that the path is not one that I can see very far down so I should just avoid it altogether. “Don’t move!” “Stay hidden!” “Keep taking up space on that church bench without ever really standing up for Jesus”. Do any of these sound familiar to you? They do to me because I’ve been living them for far too long.
So how then do we identify and defeat the fear in our lives? The first step is to be honest with ourselves and with God. We must earnestly pray and ask God to show us areas in our lives where we are letting fear win. Chances are that God has been trying to get our attention about these areas and once we commit to talk with Him and start working then He will give us the strength we need.
One of the truths of the Christian life is that God works in us only as we allow him to and only in His time and in His way. He gives us what we need when we need it and not before or after. God is a God of the present. “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). Is sufficient; not was sufficient or will be sufficient but enough for right now and the task at hand.
Once we have committed to trust God and exercise our courage God will empower us and give us the strength to perform His will in and through us. Our faith will grow and God will reward our faithfulness and reveal Himself to us as never before. I am right now living out this truth in my life as God is taking me in directions I never thought possible and blessing me richly as I learn to trust Him more fully.
If you’ve never experienced this before then I promise you that once you begin this type of courageous, faith based living you will not ever want to go back to living in fear and shadow. It does not mean that fearful situations won’t occur or that Satan won’t continue to work on your doubts and try to make you afraid because he surely will. But it does mean that you will have the tools to defeat fear through your faith in the One who is “Strong and Mighty, The Lord Mighty in Battle” (Psalm 24:8b). God is stronger and greater than the one who brings fear and certainly greater than any situation that the evil one can create.
Do you want to live in courage? Do you want to live in victory? Trust in the Lord and His mighty power and step out on faith towards a new kind of living.