In his book Uprising Erwin McManus wrote:
How often have we surrendered our freedoms under the weight of our fears? This is one of the main reasons we abdicate living for existing. As mundane and routine as it is, existing does provide for us a level of certainty, predictability, and safety. Freedom is wild and wide-open. It is filled with uncharted territory and unmapped terrain.
I have discovered that in my quest to live the life that God created me to live the chain that holds me back the most is the chain of fear. I have a fear of rejection, a fear of failure, and a fear looking stupid. These fears keep me from pursuing the life God has called me to live as I opt for the life I can arrange because it feels safer.
If we are truly going to live life then we have to trust God and face the fears that haunt our lives. I believe that true life is found on the other side of our fears. That would make fear a tool that Satan uses to keep us away from the life God has for us. Jesus said this about life; The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness (John 10:10; NLT). Jesus promises His followers a full life, but before He makes that promise He reminds us that Satan’s plan is to take away our life. So I ask you; What better way to take away your life than to cause you to fear the very path which will bring us to life?
Here is the problem we have to deal with in our hearts: How do we face our fears? I wish I had an answer to this, but I don’t have one. This is a question I constantly struggle with myself. I know that God has a life waiting for me on the other side of my fears, I know that God provides what I need to get me through my fears, but I feel paralyzed in my fear. I want so desperately to live a life of courage and to be bold, but I keep hiding in the shadows.
With that being said let me offer a couple of suggestions I have thought about in connection to facing the fears that plague our lives. First, we need to have companions. Solomon wrote: Two people can accomplish more than twice as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; NLT). Part of fear, at least in my experience, is the feeling of loneliness. In a fellowship we are able to encourage each other and to walk side by side into the uncertainty of fear. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego were able to stand tall when everyone else bowed because they had each other. Peter and John were able to stand before the Sanhedrin because they were together. It is not enough to have a pep talk before being sent on our way, but we also need companions willing to travel the journey of fear with us.
The second idea is that we need to take it one step at a time. In the movie version of The Return of the King there is a scene when Frodo and Sam look over the final leg of their journey to Mount Doom and see that there are 10,000 Orcs which stand between them and their destination. Sam says to Frodo; “We have to go in there Mister Frodo, but let’s make it down this hill for starters” (my paraphrase). Rather than focusing on the entire task of making it through the army of Orcs Sam decides to take it just one step at a time. In the end the Orcs are called off to battle Aragorn and the army of men which had marched to the Black Gate, so in the end the journey through Mordor turned was not as bad as first thought. I think the same can be said about our fears. If we take it one step at a time we will discover that the situation isn’t as scary as we first thought.
We have to face the fears that darken our hearts and rob us of life. The more we ignore our fears the bigger they grow inside of us. Only as we move to confront them do we discover that these fears diminish in size. It is also through the experience of facing our fears that we learn to trust God. The more we trust God the easier it become to move forward in obedience in the future.
The quest for life goes through the valley of our fears. To discover the full life God has created for us to live, we need to take steps to conquer these fears one step at a time . Only then can we really enjoy living life.