Factoring Fear Out of Our Decisions

     When I look backwards over the years I have already lived, I realize many of my decisions have been driven by fear.

     In high school I skipped cheerleader tryouts, even though my older sister’s friend on the cheer squad promised to coach me. I changed my choice of colleges because I was fearful of sharing a dorm room with a stranger. I did not set up interviews for certain jobs for I feared fumbling the questions.

     Fear of failure, fear of “looking stupid,” fear of negative criticism. All can push us back, push us down, push us away from goals and dreams. Yet the fear really has no power. We choose to push back to gain control over the situation. It is difficult to step out, to become vulnerable, when the outcome is not guaranteed. And so, we often take the safe, secure route. The route we can control.

     The Apostle Paul told Timothy, a young man he mentored, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” [2 Tim 1:7 NKJV]

     In this Scripture, fear is “deilia” in the original Greek, which means to lack boldness or be timid. Such an attitude is not of God. In my case I was relying on self-confidence instead of God confidence. We are stunted when we don’t step forward, because we grow by experience. We really do get better with practice. And that means going through the hard tryouts, social situations, and interviews.

     God gives us power, “dunamis” in the Greek, which means to be able to achieve. God gives us love, or “agape,” so we have affectionate regard for others. God gives us a sound mind, which is “sophronizo,” defined as “the discipline to think and act soberly, discreetly, and in moderation or handle ourselves well in an unfamiliar situation.”1

     We have the ability, the motivation, and the self-control to step forward, take a chance, see what God will do. When we hold back to hold on to that feeling of security, we stunt our growth. We allow ourselves to be less than.

     Are you allowing yourself to be less than God created you to be by taking the safe, secure path? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines secure as “free from loss or risk.”2 But that pertains to the physical realm. In the spiritual realm, staying safe may cause us to miss an opportunity to make a difference in the Kingdom of God, or gain skills we need to serve at a later time and place all because we are unwilling to take a risk.

     I think of great missionaries such as Amy Carmichael who is known for her work in India at Dohnaveur Fellowship, which she founded in 1901 as a home for rescued children. She took a risk and moved from Ireland to India.

     Without explorers, those willing to leave the security of the known and sail oceans, the world would not have been mapped. And there are those risk takers who were inventors, such as the Wright brothers known for developing the airplane.

     What is God calling you to do that requires stepping forward rather than taking a step back? Cover it in prayer and take a chance.

Contemplate Your Ways:

1-Is there currently anything you are avoiding because it makes you unsure or uncomfortable? What do you fear?

2-While decisions should always be guided by God, we can take the safe and secure route to keep everything in our control. What control issues do you need to relinquish to God?

References:

1-The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament edition edited by Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. published by AMG International, Inc.

2-Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/secure

Positioned for Security

     As I type these words, I am seated at a desk in my home office. It is a physical position. In Christ I am seated in the heavenly places [Ephesians 2:6-7]. It is my spiritual position.

     This moment, my physical position feels safe and secure. The sun is shining and there is no wind to blow a tree over onto the corner of the house where I am writing. My stomach is full, I finished breakfast about an hour ago. Salmon is defrosting on the kitchen counter for dinner. The house is kept warm by a wood stove and my computer is plugged into an electric outlet giving me access to the world through the Internet. Some would say “Life is good.”

     This is a position of security. Yet we know it can be fleeting. Last summer a friend had to race from her home with only the clothes she was wearing when an aggressive house fire next door caused her house to ignite. Living in the mountains I know the power can go off without warning and seemingly without reason. And although I have not yet had to scrounge for my next meal, I do not have easy access to a grocery store, so my meal plans are limited to the ingredients in my cupboard.

     While worldly security is unstable, heavenly security is solid.

Eph 2:4-7—”But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” ESV

     For the Christian heaven is a reality. It is for the present as well as the future.1 So let us learn to live in the reality of heaven. How do we do that? In the book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul tells us.

     Col 3:1-3—”If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” ESV

     “‘Hidden in Christ’ means security and satisfaction,” writes Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Colossians titled “Be Complete.” It is a hidden life because the world does not know the source of our satisfaction.2 Everything that is ours in Christ cannot be taken away and that includes our right standing before God and His everlasting love. [Love that intelligently, intensely, wills the best for us.] The things of this world lack permanency and their satisfaction is not long lasting.

Therefore, to truly live from a position of security we must be more heavenly minded. If we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ, this earthly life is not our home we are simply passing through. In my mind it is like traveling to another country. You take part in society, but you have no roots there… a home to call your own. You stay in a motel and carry a few belongings in a suitcase.

     And when this world is not our home, we seek Jesus first in all things rather than the things of the world. For example, our first thought for curing a headache is not ibuprofen but prayer.

What circumstances keep you down? An unexpected expense that does not fit into the budget. A relative that no longer wishes to be included in family events. Chores that are never completed no matter how early you rise or how late you stay up.

     Seated in heavenly places we come face to face with God. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 42:5 that when our soul is downcast, we seek the help of His countenance. Helen H. Lemmel had the same idea when she wrote “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” in 1922. As we gaze upon Jesus, recognizing all his attributes, our worries fade. Our heavenly status while we live here on earth positions us for security.

     Refrain:    
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Contemplate Your Ways:

1-What practices lift your gaze from the things of the world to your heavenly position face-to-face with Jesus?

2-In what ways have you discovered the world does not offer the security we desire?

References:

1-Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose. Published by David C Cook Colorado, Springs, CO.

2-Be Complete: Become the Whole Person God Intends You to Be a commentary on the book of Colossians by Warren W. Wiersbe. Published by David C Cook Colorado Springs, CO.