When Afraid, Embrace the “F”-word: FAITH

My dislike of snakes is widely documented. However, it’s not quite as bad as you may be led to believe. Not that I like snakes or don’t encounter them. I don’t, and I do. It’s simply that after two-and-a-half years coexisting with them here in Texas I’ve learned to “deal with it.” Who knew I would actually learn to control my fear of those nasty creatures who crawl on the ground? I’ve accepted I will run into a snake from time to time; and that they’re not all out to get me. (Though, I still suspect my picture may be on the wall of snake headquarters.) When I encounter one now, I (generally) stay calm and go about my business. I’ve basically chosen to believe my life isn’t likely to end at an encounter with a snake. Essentially, I had to decide snakes were not going to keep me from walks, trips to the outdoor trash cans, and picking up sticks and garden hoses. It doesn’t mean I won’t encounter the occasional snake, but I won’t live in fear of it or it’s attack.

I talk to people all the time who are afraid of one thing or another – economic struggles, disease, death, loss, unrequited love, abandonment, betrayal, snotty friends, workplace or school rumor mills, and any number of other scary situations. I regularly remind those folks that faith and fear can’t coexist. God didn’t create us to be people of fear. Paul tells Timothy not to hunker down afraid of life and ministry, but to go forward fully in the power of God in 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Our relationship with Christ is the basis for the faith that overcomes fear. It doesn’t change our circumstances, but does allow us to stand with confidence in the face of unsure event. I’m always amazed at this verse, that Paul would string together my personal role (self-discipline), God’s strength (spirit of power), and combine it with love. It’s God’s power that allows me to face fear and my discipline which gives me a plan to deal with it appropriately. Love is also required to keep me from being cocky or from being a bully when I’m afraid.

The practical reality of dealing with fear isn’t just refusing fear, but embracing Christ in the midst of life’s storms. When Jesus walked on the water out to the boat his disciples were in, they were afraid of this figure walking on top of water through a raging storm. Jesus’ words were, “”Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) The power of positive thinking doesn’t give you the ability to conquer fear. It’s the step of saying no to the fear you experience and yes to the Savior who is more powerful than the storm. That confidence, rooted in faith, gives us the stability to overcome the emotions of fear. I like how Arterburn, Meier, and Wise put it in their book Fear Less for Life. They write, “ Facing and defeating fear is always an act of courageous faith. While our adrenaline-filled emotions scramble and our hearts beat as if they will explode, we need courage to stand against adversity and to maintain faith when everything we value appears ready to collapse. An enduring faith is a necessity if we are going to defeat fear.”

Is there anything standing outside your door causing you to live in fear? An experience, a person, a snake? You can embrace faith and experience freedom from that fear today. Your circumstances may not change, but your view will be different.

The Unexamined Life and All…

Pastor Jeff

Posted: August 16, 2011 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual
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