So much of my life has been lived in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking dumb or being humiliated, fear of meeting new people, going new places or trying new things. As a kid the new school year was frightening and my folks would remind me that everyone else is in the same boat. While that may have been true, it didn’t help. I was afraid to leave the comfort and security of home. As I grew older new jobs scared me. I would be physically ill on my way into work and have to stop along the way to empty the contents of my stomach. Fear kept me from sleeping at night, from stepping out and trying new things. It kept me from going or doing either what I wanted to do or needed to do. Fear held me back from a great many things in my life and over the years I’ve learned that fear is powerful.
Fear isn’t all bad. It tells me to run in the face of danger. Fear protects me but it can also hold me captive. I can be trapped by fear even when there is no danger present or when I allow my fear to grow into something greater than it should be. Was there a real danger present at the beginning of each new school year or when I started each new job? No, of course not, but because of what my mind was convinced of, my body reacted to, literally. Yes, it’s true that when we’re convinced of something, like fear, our minds have the power to make us physically ill. Consider Proverbs 23:7 which says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” I’ve given fear too much power. My perception of a given situation can be entirely untrue and what’s more, I’m placing my trust in the wrong thing entirely – myself. It’s time to shift my focus.
I don’t want to live in fear any longer. I want to step into all that God has in store for me. I want to go when God says “Go” and stop when he says “Stop”. Isaiah 30:21 states, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” I want to speak when I hear his gentle voice urging me to talk with someone or pray boldly with a complete stranger. My heart’s desire is to move beyond the controlling confines of fear and step boldly into what God has in store for me. In order for me to move beyond fear I must learn that ‘fearful’ is not who I am any longer. Through Scripture I’m learning that God can set me free from fear.
There are two verses in Scripture I cling to. The first is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The second is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” In order for me to step out of a fear-filled mindset I must step into something different. For me, that something different happened when I was eight years old, the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior. I’ve been a born again Christian for 42 years but only recently have I understood the power of Christ within me. I’ve walked far too many years without knowing or understanding that I didn’t need to live in constant fear. Too many years not understanding the transformative power of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12).
I can’t claim to fully understand how Scripture works in me as I read it, but this I know: the more Scripture I read, the more peace I have. The closer I walk with Jesus, the more I learn, the more I hide Scripture in my heart, the more peace I have. I still have days when all I see are the waves and storms of life as they crash around me. Still, I’m learning to keep my eyes on the One who calms my storms with the Word of His mouth. Do I understand why things happen or for what purpose? No, but I’m not meant to, because that’s what faith in Christ is all about. It’s a simple childlike faith that believes and trusts, even when everything in me is screaming otherwise. Fear is losing its grip on me as I grow in faith and trust in Jesus my Savior.