It’s Monday Grace!
Fear is real. The object of our fears may not be real, but the fear itself is both real and powerful. Fear can make a strong person weak. Fear can make a smart person sound foolish. Fear can stop the progress a powerful enemy would not have been able to stop. Fear can make us quit after the work is done and the end is in sight. Fear can stop the beginning. Fear can hold us in when we want to go. Fear can push us out when we want to stay. Few of us have any idea of what we could have accomplished without fear.
Even Christians can be debilitated by fear. Stopped on their way to do something great. Pushed into something dumb. Trapped in places and situations they hate. God calls, but they can’t respond because they are afraid. Adam and Eve hid from God because of their fear. The people of Israel failed their mission because of fear. They limited the joy of their lives and the power of their call because of fear.
Some try to tell us that fear isn’t real. Others say that fear is a sin. Someone has suggested that fear comes because we know too much. We know the possible consequences or obstacles or dangers. If we didn’t know, we might just stumble into something great, they say. Zig Zigler used to say that fear came because of what we see, “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Like hallucinations, the things we fear can’t really hurt us.
But fear is real. And fear is an enemy.
I would suggest that fear comes from not knowing the whole truth, or maybe from not believing the truth. One of my favorite stories comes from 2 Kings 6, where the army of the Syrians has come to bring Elisha back to their king. Elisha’s servant was afraid when he saw the city surrounded by the horses and chariots and soldiers. The fear in his heart came from not knowing. What he saw did make him afraid, but what he didn’t see was the rest of the story.
And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:17
We understand that the young servant was terrified by what he saw, but we know he would have been comforted by what he did not see. Certainly, when he saw that the forces of the Lord around Elisha were far more in number and power than the Syrian army, the young man understood how his master could stand calmly in the midst of the threat.
But here’s the zinger: there is no indication that Elisha could see the armies of the Lord! He knew they were there because he knew the Lord was His protector. His faith overcame his fear.
The call to us is to trust the Lord who loves us. When we begin to understand how the Lord thinks of us, we will find fear fading away. So many people across the church worry that God is against them, that their sins will cause severe consequence, that they will miss Heaven, and that they will not measure up in the day of judgment. They suffer fear because they don’t know the truth of God’s love.
Some people ask, “What could you accomplish if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Then you are supposed to get out there and do that thing without fear. But that’s not the right question. We will fail, maybe over and over. The better question is what would you accomplish if your failure didn’t define the results? In other words, if your failure was only a sign of progress? Edison and other great inventors accomplished great things because they didn’t let fear of failure stop them. They kept going despite failures. And we are to do the right thing despite fear, because there is more to the story that we cannot see.
Do what the Lord who loves you leads you to do. Ignore failure. Ignore errors. Ignore setbacks. If you fall, pick yourself up and start again. If you sin, give it to Jesus and get back on track.
Trust that your fate is in the hands of the One who loves you. Trust that walking the path is more important than reaching your goal. Trust that you are safe in the hands of your Lord.