What is Fear Costing Us?

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

I have known the Lord as my helper for years, but I am still afraid.

What will man do to me? Well, for starters, man doesn’t always approve of me. Sometimes man rejects me. When I succeed or fail, man watches and judges my worth or value.

Or so I think. I’m beginning to suspect that others think far less often of me than I might guess, everyone’s thoughts being as centered around themselves as mine are around me.

And the more I study fear – in the Bible and in real life – the more I see that fear is a trap, particularly for those who say they trust God.

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. (Proverbs 29:25)

There is no telling how much hurt and heartache the Christian Church has caused because we have feared man more than God. I don’t want to be a part of that mess. The writer of Hebrews calls across the centuries,

Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6)

The same fear that has driven God’s people in history and right now, drives me.

Let love of the brethren continue…

I feel called to love as Jesus loves, but some within my Christian community and even family think I’m taking it too far. Accepting people and things that are unacceptable. I’m too touchy feely, I’m not safeguarding the Gospel, I’m not defending God’s Word.

Will I love anyway?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers… Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 

I read about immigration and the racial biases implanted in our justice system, and my heart breaks. If I speak publicly about this, it’s seen as political, not befitting my position, I’ve “gone liberal.” Will I show hospitality and remember prisoners (and work to right these wrongs) anyway?

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…

Ouch. This one hits close to home. Is my character free from the love of money? What role does fear play in my spending habits, in my debts, in my lifestyle choices, in the difference between what I spend on myself and what I give in generosity to others? What role does fear play in my willing participation in the over consumption embedded in our culture, to the harm of the earth and my fellow humans? How much does the love of money affect my politics, the issues I care most about? Is contentment or comfort my driving goal?

I want to love the brethren, welcome outsiders, stand with those who are mistreated and imprisoned. I want to continue to honor my marriage, and I badly want to be free from the love of money, to find real contentment. HOW?

… for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”  so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraidWhat will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6)

The voice of fear is loud. But Jesus Himself says He is with me. Do I believe Him?


 

This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. Check back every Tuesday for the latest, and you can read the previous posts in the series here.

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Photo in image by Apostolhs Gkoutzidhs on Unsplash
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The Opposite of Fear is…

A few years ago we made the decision to move from homeschooling our younger two sons and sent them to school, 3rd grade and kindergarten. This was a rough transition for both of them, but particularly (and understandably) for our 3rd grader. Like his mama, he was afraid of failing, of standing out, of doing something wrong. He mourned for the safety of home, even when what he really needed was the risk and reward of the big wide world.

We talked to him nonstop about bravery, “Be brave!”, “You’re so brave!”, “You can be brave!” I’m embarrassed to think about how frustrated we got with him when he refused to be brave, especially considering my own wealth of personal experience in this area.

When has telling myself to be brave EVER helped me be less afraid??

Answer: Never. It has never helped me.

I should have known that courage is not the opposite of fear. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.

So what is the opposite of fear?

As I’ve studied verses from the Bible about fear, I think I’ve found if not THE answer, then at least AN answer. Continue reading

The One Thing that Helps Me Face Fear

Are worry, anxiety, and fear the same thing? I’ve never been a worrier, and hardly ever identify myself as anxious. But I’ve been afraid my whole life.

I’m afraid of failure.

I’m afraid of abandonment.

I’m super afraid of rejection.

I’m so afraid of embarrassment I don’t enjoy movies or shows with embarrassing characters (See also: I’ve never watched a full episode of The Office.)

I’m afraid of making wrong decisions, of being misunderstood,  of doing the wrong thing, of not being enough, of being too much.

My life, my decisions, my relationships, my ministry, have all been shaped by fear.

Fear calls me to live a safe life, a life as protected as possible from failure, abandonment, rejection, embarrassment.  But a life without risk is also a life without adventure, connection, love, and freedom.

Continue reading

When You Have to Make a Decision, and You’re Scared to Death

I worked full time in order to pay for my last few years of college, taking only 1-2 classes a semester, so I had a lot of time to decide what I wanted to do “when I grew up”. About a year before my long awaited graduation my church created a job that was half administrative assistant and half women’s ministry assistant for the college ministry, and offered it to me.

At the time, it was the hardest decision I’d ever faced.

I loved the people offering me the job, and I loved my church, and I loved college ministry. But I’d never imagined working at a church. And since this job hadn’t existed before, it wasn’t something I’d pictured or dreamed of doing. Previously, the only jobs available to women at my church were secretarial, and I wasn’t interested in secretarial work as a career (I was working full time as an Admin Assistant at my university).

Looking back I recognize that deep down I wanted to say yes, and even felt the Lord pointing to His goodness for me in that particular job. But I was very afraid. And they wanted a 5 year commitment: I was 25, working my tail off to finally graduate and leave my college town, and I wasn’t ready to commit to being anywhere for 5 years.

If I say I agonized over that decision, I’m underselling it. I obsessed. I over analyzed. I made pro and con lists. I met with people from the church, repeatedly. I prayed, obsessively. I was paralyzed by indecision, desperately afraid of making the wrong choice.

Two things helped me to move out of my paralysis. Continue reading

Fear of Failure, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and Nebraska Football

I don’t like doing things if I don’t know I’m going to succeed. This bent keeps me from enjoying simple activities like bowling or mini golf, but it could also rob me of the opportunity to fail, learn and grow in much more important areas.

I’m aware of my fear of failure, and I’ve been working to push past it for a while. In that fight, I’m realizing a new fear: I think I might also be afraid of wanting success, of wanting more than I have, of wanting to be better. I don’t want to be “extra” or a “try hard.”

Especially when I am doing something creative, and certainly anything public, I am afraid of the criticism, “Who do you think you are?” I’m afraid people will see what I am doing and think, “Oh, she thinks she’s so great, she thinks she’s really something.” “Well she has a high opinion of herself.” Continue reading