Sunday, May 06, 2007

Facing Our Fears

Fear, the feeling of alarm and dread, is the biggest hindrance that we face as we seek to carry out God's will. It is fear which keeps us from discovering the life that God has to offer to us. I think many of us would agree that fear is the biggest obstacle we face in growing our relationship with God.

The problem of fear is that there are some fears which are very practical for our lives. A fear of heights makes us cautious when we are high above the ground. A fear of drowning makes us to the proper cautions when we are out on the water. Fear helps us identify dangerous situations.

That is probably why our impractical fears seem so rational to us because they make us think about the worst that can happen, no matter how improbable the outcome may be. We avoid doing things because we are afraid of consequences that probably will never happen. Thus we miss out on experiencing God working through us because we are too afraid to live a life of faith.

It is interesting to note that the most given command found in the Bible is "fear not." Often this command is given by God or one of His messengers during an encounter with a person. By being afraid the person would miss out on encountering God and learning more about Him. They same could be said about our fears. When we give into our fears instead of doing God's will we miss the opportunity to encounter God and learn more about who He is.

"Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. I command you--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:6-9; NLT

Joshua had at least two reasons to fear as he became the new leader of the nation of Israel. First, he had the responsibility of leading these people. Not only was he their physical guide showing them the way they were to travel, but he was also their spiritual leader. In Israel the two always went together.

Second, Joshua had the responsibility of fighting the people living in the Promised Land. Joshua knew of the walled cities and the mighty warriors who lived there, and he knew that Israel, by herself, could not take the country. They would be slaughtered if they tried it.

When God spoke to Joshua He addressed both of Joshua's fears. First, God reminded Joshua of His promise. The promise of God was that Israel would occupy this land, and God Himself would make sure this happened. Second, God ordered Joshua to be a man of the Scriptures. It was through obeying and understanding God's commands that would make Joshua qualified to lead this nation spiritually. Dedication to God's Word would give Joshua the faith he needed to face his fears.

I think the same is true for us. We need to remember the promises of God. God has promised us salvation and an eternal relationship with Him in Heaven. There is nothing, besides our choice to abandon God, which can keep us from realizing these great promises God has made to us. Our fears quickly fade when we focus on God's promises.

We also have to people of the Book. The Bible reveals to us what we need to know about God and how He wants us to live. Its words continually build our faith, which is essential to stepping out in courage. In a spiritual sense faith and courage are inseparable companions. Both are required to live the way God wants us to live.

Satan will use fear in our lives to hold us back from doing what we need to do. Only when we respond to fear with faith and courage will we experience God at work in the world around us. Be strong and courageous for God is on our side!

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