I live a lot of my life in fear. I have irrational fears like the windshield will suddenly implode while I’m driving or I scream every time I see a spider. Most of my fears run deeper than that: I fear the unknown. I don’t like to admit it, because I like to believe I’m strong and independent, but I fear I’ll never find a job or a boyfriend.
I may not know exactly what’s next, but I know it’s not God’s intention for my life to live in fear.
In 2 Kings 1:15, Elijah is on a battlefield. If there is ever a time to fear, I think it would be on a battlefield. Still God says to him, “Do not be afraid.”
How do I combat fear? I trust God.
That’s all. The end. Have a nice day. Okay, just kidding. It sounds so simple, but it’s one of those “easier said than done” things. When I was in Sunday School, if you don’t know the answer, it would always be safe to say, “Jesus. Read the Bible. Pray.” No matter the question, one of those things was probably the answer. I say that partly flippantly. Even as easy as the “Sunday School answers” are, once life gets tough or I hit a rough patch, I know I need to fall on my face before God.
Fear comes from creating our own vision. We picture the future in a way that makes sense to us. We write plans out on paper. I like lists, and I like plans to know what’s happening next. God operates on a different level than our own life-planning sessions.
When I was in high school, one of the summer church camps was set up Amazing Race-style. We were given clues step-by-step. However, our counselors had the whole package, each step sealed in an envelope. Even though we were not supposed to, our counselor opened the clues to figure out what was ahead. It seemed practical, duh—now we know what shoes to wear. Unfortunately, we missed an opportunity to learn an important life lesson. Sometimes we are only revealed what’s next right as we are stepping out in faith. The Israelites had to walk into the sea, trusting God to split the Red Sea.
We aren’t always given time to plan for appropriate shoe choices.
I have learned when I’m so concerned with what’s happening next, I’m not seeking God’s will and vision.
Why trust God? God is sovereign. Pastor Jonathan Martin tweeted this:
For me, to call God sovereign is to say that the Supreme One who is love has an endless capacity to bring beauty out of ugliness.
I agree. God is in control. He is working and redeeming us. No matter what the outcome of my specific life circumstances are, God is teaching me and shaping me. Trusting God is a constant thing. I pick up my fear, so I am often reminded to lay it down over and over. I am constantly giving God my fears and doubts. Trusting God is not a one-time decision. It’s a conscious decision to trust God. Often it’s a daily decision; sometimes it’s a moment-by-moment decision.
Today, let’s join together in this prayer*:
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you the stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.
*From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro