I have known all too well that fear is the biggest obstacle I face as I follow Jesus. It is what holds me back from developing my talents, investing my life in the life of other people, and living out my God given passions.
As I read through The Lord of the Rings this past week a longing for courage swelled in my heart. I want to have the courage to face the Orcs of life, to fight against the Dark Lord and his agenda, and to become the person God created me to be.
What is needed for courage? Perhaps part of the answer is found in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)The author of Hebrews urges us to get rid of EVERYTHING, not just our sin, that holds us back (that includes our fear). He says that we find the strength and the courage to do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus.
I admit that too often I focus on myself and my circumstances, and thus lose heart. It is Jesus who is able to strengthen our hearts. So the question needs to be asked: How do we keep focused on Jesus in a world of distractions?
First, we need to be in the Scriptures so we can be reminded of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Second, we need to be encouraged by other Christians: from sermons and books to small groups and one on one conversations other Christians and spiritual conversations must be part of our lives. Third, we need to pray and ask God to open the eyes of our hearts so we can see Jesus at work in the world around us.
Fear will prevent us from living the life God created us to live. May we find the courage to live by focusing on Jesus.