It was a fun road trip to Austin, Texas.
Just me, my big sister Chrystal, and one of our closest friends, Shawna.
Chrystal was driving, I was in the front passenger seat, and Shawna was in the back talking about something she’d been thinking about doing but why she couldn’t do it and how she felt bad about not doing it but why it didn’t matter because she could never do it anyway. When we tried to press her on what her real hesitations were, she kept talking and rationalizing and deflecting and defending until she finally nearly snapped our heads back with an unexpected, highly exasperated, "Because I’m not READY!"
"Because I’m SCARED!"
She chronicled her internal struggle: "What if I can’t do it? What if nothing I write makes sense? Worse yet, what if I do get some stuff done, start to feel pretty good about it, but nobody likes it? Or what if they’re too nice to say they don’t like it, but I can tell from what they do say (and don’t say) that I’ve failed miserably? Even if I can, what if people don’t find it helpful or useful? What if the financial adjustment we’ll need to make in order for me to do it means my kids will have to give up some of the activities they love? What if it all ends up being a total waste of time and energy? What if it’s all just some sort of ego trip or head game, something I’m projecting onto myself?"
Does this sound like you?
Is fear keeping you from doing what you are meant to be doing?
The first words that blurted out of my mouth were, "Do it anyway!"
It was so obvious the enemy was trying to paralyze her. "He’s the one behind this," I said. "Don’t sit there and let him do that. Don’t let him stop you from moving forward. I don’t care how afraid or not ready you may feel. Obey God anyway!"
The fact is, I was mad. Still am. Mad at the enemy for messing with my friend like that. And I’m mad at him for messing with you too . . . and with me. With all of us.
Fear is one of Satan’s primary schemes for crippling God’s people. I’m not talking about legitimate concern. I’m not talking about the protective warnings of wisdom and godly counsel. I’m talking about fear. Incessant worry. Up-all-night anxiety. Worst-case scenarios becoming the only probabilities you can think about. Fears like these, instead of simply raising our blood pressure, ought to set off some fire alarms. Why am I feeling so paralyzed like this?
What are we to do with fear?
I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the story of Moses and the children of Israel, pinned up against the waters of the Red Sea while the Egyptian pharaoh and his armies were bearing down hard from behind. No escape. And the only direction that wasn’t swarming with enemy hordes, the one path God was directing His people to go, lay straight ahead through the sea.
These two million Hebrews had every reason to be terrified. Mortified really. There was no swimming out of this one. And yet, with the odds so heavily stacked against them, and with no indicator of the miracle that God had planned, Moses said to the people, "Do not fear!" (Exod. 14:13). His very first instruction to them was not to be afraid.
Notice that Moses wasn’t telling them not to feel fear. Fear is a natural human response to a lot of things, a Red Sea moment being one of them. So he knew they would feel fear, but he was telling them not to wallow in it. Not to choose it. Not make friends with it. Not entertain it, engage it. Because if they did, they risked not sticking around long enough to experience the stunning miracle their God was about to perform. And even more, they risked not getting to the other side. To the Promised Land. To the milk and to the honey. To destiny.
Oh, so that’s what the enemy wanted fear to keep them from obtaining. That’s what they’d all be singing about in the next chapter, while Pharaoh’s army was being swallowed whole by the waters and Israel was now just a hop and a skip from Sinai. And that’s what he hopes fear will keep you from obtaining too. Your destiny.
What the Bible Says About Fear
Do. Not. Be. Afraid.
This issue of fear is so well-known and important to God that more than 300 times in Scripture He tells His people—in one form or another—not to be afraid.
"Fear not." "Be ye not afraid." "Do not fear."
Look it up. It’s everywhere. And they’re all saying the same thing: "Don’t be afraid." Because fear is the antithesis of faith. And faith is what allows you to step foot on the soil of your destiny.
In fervent prayer, we discover something: Our God is fearless. And because He is fearless, we can be fearless too. When His presence is with us and going before us, no Red Sea should faze us or give us pause.
So despite your hesitation, say yes.
Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.
How to Overcome Fear
The way to fight fear is with a deliberate prayer strategy of your own.
Pray these verses for yourself:
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
Excerpted from Fervent. © 2015 B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.