For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. [2 Timothy 1:7]
I hate fear.
I should qualify that.
Caution is not the same as fear. People who refuse to do things like jump out of a perfectly good airplane, or drive in a snow storm are not fearful in the way I mean here. They may be overly cautious and that caution may manifest itself in a way that looks like fear. That caution may even cost them opportunities to do great things but that’s not what I mean here.
I’m not talking about the fear of physical harm. I’m talking about debilitating, paralyzing fear of the unknown, unknowable primarily mental consequences of a particular action or inaction. I’m talking about fear associated with emotional pain more so than physical pain. It’s this kind of fear that keeps us second guessing ourselves and prevents us from reaching our God given potential.
I recently discovered an amazing little book written by two teenagers from Portland, Oregon called “Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.” The authors are 19 year old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris. They started the Rebelution blog (www.therebelution.com) when they were 17, after they had already spent a summer interning for a Supreme Court justice in Alabama and managing his campaign for re-election. These are not your ordinary teenagers but they are a shining example of what teenagers could be if they tried.
The Harris twins talk a lot in their book and on-line about overcoming fear.
We’ve noticed that the fence that keeps us from breaking out of our comfort zones is nearly always built of fear – fear of weakness, discomfort, failure, humiliation. We’ve noticed something else too: you can’t live by fear and live by faith at the same time. . – Alex & Brett Harris; Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
Fear is the “fence that keeps us from breaking out of our comfort zones.” That doesn’t sound like something God, or anyone else who loves us would want. Instead it sounds like something the Enemy invented.
A couple of years ago I read a different book that talked a lot about fear too. Napolean Hill, famous for his success principles and the book “Think and Grow Rich” wrote a manuscript in the 1930s that remained un-published until recently called “Outwitting the Devil”. In it he “interviews” Satan and gains incredible insight into how he controls the world.
You know that I exist only in the minds of people who have fears. You know that I control only the drifters who neglect to use their own minds. You know that my hell is here on earth and not in the world that comes after death. And you know also that drifters supply all the fire I use in my hell. – [The Devil] Napolean Hill; Outwitting The Devil, The Secret to Freedom and Success
The Devil only exists in the “minds of people who have fears.” Emotional fears are the enemy of success. The antidote is faith.
Joshua had every reason to be afraid. He was taking over leadership from the man who had led the people out of Egypt. He had big shoes to fill. And he was leading them into a land occupied by established societies that were hostile to his mission. But when Joshua expressed fear and doubt God said to him:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. [Joshua 1:9]
That was enough for Joshua. He got up and rallied the people to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. As long as the people had faith and did not give in to fear God was with them. When they doubted things went badly.
God is saying the same thing to all of us today. Be strong and courageous. And watch what he will do.
What are you afraid of?
How is God telling you to be strong and courageous?