Fear is something that we are all familiar with…some of us more than others. Sometimes it roars in with tragic circumstances, horrible thoughts, or images we see on our electronic screens. Other times it is as sneaky as a suspicion, “being careful”, or “staying safe”. Whatever it is that causes us to fear, we have to admit to ourselves that when we say “yes” to a certain amount of fear, we are saying “no” to a certain amount of freedom.
I have known more fear than most. I have lived a life full of it. Just tonight, I pulled out some old journals where I had written during my times of anxiety and fear…when fear threatened to overwhelm me…and without warning, I began to cry. Tears fell because I read page after page of a girl who has always felt one step away from being all alone…one step away from being abandoned…one step away from being left. or worse, locked in a room by herself.
And haven’t I just hit the nail on the head anyway? Isn’t most fear rooted in rejection and abandonment? Don’t we even fear that God will abandon us…that He might leave us alone to face ourselves? I know that my journal revealed that fear…to the extent that each time fear hit my life, I dropped everything and began an insane focus on God and His Word. “That isn’t a bad thing, Candace.” Oh, I could make it sound really spiritual and tell you that I just desired more intimacy…but in truth, I was desperately afraid. Afraid that He would leave. Afraid that I had messed up so horribly that there was no way He still loved me. Believing that I could somehow drop “normal” life and make it up to Him. If I spent my whole day in prayer and Bible Study, that He would stay. I was desperately running after and clinging to Him, not out of love (because after all, perfect love would have instantly cast out all my fear) but out of fear.
I believe that THIS is exactly why He said OVER and OVER and OVER “Do not fear.” He repeated this over and over again because He knew we would need to hear it. He reassured us, going so far as to say, “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” He wanted us to be certain that He was never the source of fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.”
And isn’t that what fear does? It completely takes away our love (as our focus turns inward and we try desperately to protect ourselves), our power (as we become spineless and cowering and hiding mice), and our sound mind (as we begin to irrationally try to solve any and all perceived problems and get back to “safety”). The spirit of fear inhales our freedom.
This is why we live in the world that we do today. Fear is the enemy’s tool of choice on the table. Politicians tell us all the reasons why we need to be afraid of other politicians. Freak accidents happen and we rush to create new laws that may or may not (probably not) keep them from ever happening again. New diseases appear and we double up on the hand sanitizer (I bet that is a good racket by now). We buy all the bad news being sold and we spend our days beefing up our security. We are afraid for our children…afraid for our jobs…afraid for our finances…afraid for our health…afraid for our futures. We are making so many decisions out of fear, and such decisions will never be blessed of the Lord. Our freedom is being slowly captured because we live afraid…and in order to live free, fear cannot be our decision maker.
Take a few minutes and write down what you are most afraid of. Just for a few minutes, take inventory and get a piece of paper out and write down every single fear. Now take that paper, turn it over and on the back write down things that you would do if you were not afraid. I’m serious. Write down how you would like to live… fearlessly. What does freedom look like to you?
On my list, I had things like “Go to China” and “Enjoy my children’s sporting and school events” and “Travel more”. All of those things I have done since that journal. In spite of fear, and sometimes in the very midst of it, I have done things I want to do, but am afraid to. Do you want to know my secret?
I simply made the decision by the power of the Holy Spirit that fear would NOT be my ruler. It no longer had place as an idol in my life. It no longer calls the shots. It’s no longer the boss. Fear would NOT be my god.
Is this a difficult decision? Of course it is. It is a decision that fear takes as a challenge. It won’t give up easily. It will fight with every blustery “blow your house down” breath. Thankfully my house is built of Rock! It is built on Rock! It is built by the Rock! It doesn’t blow down…even in the fiercest storm. How bout yours?
There is nothing but freedom in Christ, because once He is yours and you are His, He doesn’t leave… EVER. He doesn’t abandon His work. Once He begins it, He completes it. Of course we have a responsibility to cooperate with that work, but He doesn’t walk away even when we don’t. cooperate..He keeps setting up opportunities to reach us. There are no orphans of God…NONE.
But know this…fear is a sneaky son of the devil himself. Fear is the lie that says you are too far gone. It is the whisper in your ear that nobody cares. It is the tyrant that screams over you that you can’t…that you’ll never make it…that you’ve messed it up far too bad for a perfect, Holy God. It is the voice that tells you He’s gone…that God has turned His back and walked away. And as crazy as this sounds, it doesn’t have to be true for you to give up your freedom. All that needs to happen is for you to believe it. You can render yourself powerless, loveless, and irrational simply by believing the lies of fear.
So are you following fear or are you following freedom? Have you deceived yourself into believing you are free when you are really living within the confines of what you fear? See, you can be a missionary to another country and look really sacrificial out of fear… fear that it is the only way to God’s heart. You can be standing in a pulpit and look really righteous out of fear…fear that without sermons it is impossible to please God. You can be living the American dream and look really prosperous out of fear…fear that without it you have nothing. You can live without “religion” and look really intelligent out of fear…fear that God is “gonna get you” if you ever give Him your address. You can live a “blameless” life and look really holy out of fear…fear that people will see what you actually are (just another person like the rest of us). You can avoid confrontation and look like a peacemaker out of fear…fear that somebody might end up not liking you. You can run around and look really free out of fear…fear that if you don’t you will end up in chains. But the contents of the package are still the same. If you are living out of fear, you are not free.
In this way, the enemy has a whole lot of Christians deceived and chained to his bidding. The more of us that are kept from freedom in Christ, the less of us there are to do the true work of the Kingdom.
If you are looking for a successful tactic to destroy good…a way to disarm the power of the people of God…an avenue to advance the lesser kingdom of darkness…look no further than the rising culture of fear.