Have you ever been asked this question: “So what is God teaching you these days?” I’ve been asked this on occasion and found myself scrambling for an answer. In fact, it used to cause my heart to race and anxiety to quickly well up within me. But the question is not that scary, is it? Well, if you’re like me and not adept at actually knowing what’s going on in your heart, if you’re not keenly aware of yourself, or if you tend to always say “fine” and nothing more when asked how you’re doing, then this question can come as a scare. After being asked this a few times, I finally developed an arsenal of good, pat answers that could always be used because I typically had no deep, true answer for what God was doing in my life. Everything for me was more about doing things correctly and less about personal, meaningful growth.
These days, things have become slightly different although I’m not sure exactly how change took place. Now, I’m actually seeing the areas in my life where God is poking and prodding, where He has lessons for me to learn, where He wants control, and where it hurts to admit all this. And perhaps the most honest answer to this question is revealing itself as the one I least want to admit: God is teaching me that I’m a person full of fear and light on faith.
Fear asserts itself in so many ways. From public speaking to death, injury to financial ruin, from fear of the dark to the fear of failure, we are men and women who have given fear large rule and reign in our lives. For me, I’m starting to see the areas where this is most true and (guess what?) it’s scaring me a little bit.
In many ways I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of embarrassment. I’m afraid of being wrong. I’m afraid of being criticized. I’m afraid of looking foolish. I’m afraid of not being accepted. And I can see how these fears are controlling me. In conversations, I tend to take the neutral ground because I don’t want to find myself in a disagreement that may cause the other person to think I’m foolish. In areas of conviction or opinion I often claim that I haven’t landed on a side because I don’t want to find my side to be the wrong side. I always look for the middle ground that affords me the ability to jump from one idea to the next to avoid criticism. I let my desire for acceptance silence me from speaking and I’ve convinced myself that I have nothing to say because my thoughts are incomplete and unformulated.
This blog itself is a testament to my fearful nature. I love to write and I’ve wanted to publish my thoughts for nearly a year, yet I never did. I blamed our crazy life and busyness but the truth is that I was afraid of what others might think. I was afraid that I might not make any sense, that I’d display bad theology (or bad grammar), and that what I thought was a gift would be shown to be a empty box.
So how do I overcome this fear? How do I push the publish button at the top of the page? The thing I’m discovering is that I can’t. I can’t overcome fear on my own. It has to come from outside of me, from something that I can hope in that is greater than myself. Because my fears come from within me I need something outside me to invade and take over. My fear tells me I’m not good enough, so I need something that is always good. My fear tells me I’m going to fail, so I need something that has already succeeded. My fear tells me I’ll never be accepted, so I need something that has already accepted me. My fear tells me I’m not worthy, so I need something that tells me I’m valuable. And only in the person of Jesus do I find all of this and more.
We tend to fear the things we can’t control, but Jesus controls all things. His death on the cross displayed perfect control as he could have at any time stopped those proceedings, but for my sake and yours He did not. He controlled His fears and desires and gave Himself freely and wholly on the cross for us. His resurrection shows that He also controls death for it has no dominion over Him. He is the all powerful King and Lord of all. He is the only one with the power and ability to cast out all fear. He wants to do that for me if I’ll allow Him. If I’ll allow the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for me to sink into the depths of my heart it will powerfully remove all elements of fear.
More than just an intellectual mindset, I have to fully allow Jesus to enter and rule my life in every aspect. To kill off the fears in my life I must allow the Gospel to penetrate and transform me. I must set my mind on the fact that when I allow Jesus to rule, it’s as if I went to the cross with Him, that I have died and have risen again, that I have been forgiven and freed from all sin, guilt, and fear. Only then will the things that bring fear be replaced with hope, for they are no longer my life. Fear has been expelled as Jesus takes His place on the throne of my life.
Now, I’m sure there are some errors or gaps in what I’ve just written, and if anyone actually read my blog they could easily pick them out. They could criticize me, laugh at me, or even worse disregard me altogether. I should probably keep my thoughts to myself and not open myself up to the unknown. That would be the safe thing to do, right? Or I could exercise faith, hit publish, and let the peace of Christ rule in my heart instead.