Have you ever felt unqualified or unable to do something? Has fear ever gotten the better of you?
If you’re human and have been alive for any period of time, your answer to these questions is probably “yes”.
I was talking with a friend recently who wants to write a book on dating and relationships. She's an amazing and insightful woman whose story and wisdom will challenge and encourage many people.
I like to check up on this dream every once in awhile, but each time my question is met with a grimace on her face; she’s scared to write it. She’s currently single and has made a lot of mistakes in her dating past which she’s learned from. Now she is determined to date the right way and would love to give singles the guide she didn’t have in her early dating years. The wounds inflicted by past relationships have been healed by God and she has entrusted her heart to him, yet she’s still afraid.
She’s not alone.
There are many Bible characters who struggled with fear on one level or another: Moses was too afraid to talk to Pharaoh alone so he brought a travel buddy, Esther was too afraid to talk with her husband but a swift kick in the pants by her cousin was just what she needed, and though Daniel was afraid, he knew God was with him and stuck to his guns.
But I think, of all our awesome Bible heroes, Paul is my favorite. To say he was gutsy is putting it mildly. Paul didn’t let anything stop him. When we first meet him in the book of Acts, his job is to kill Christians - imagine putting that on a resume or a business card! Then he has this amazing conversion experience and meets Jesus.
Imagine what it would’ve been like for him to return home after that experience. He had joined the movement and believed what he had been seeking to root out for years. Not only would he be rejected by Christians (who were no doubt scared of him) but he would be persecuted by the very organization he once belonged to. Imagine the whispers, the condescension, the harassment, the taunting, the beatings he would face by people he had once called friends.
Paul’s life just grew more and more adventurous, but every adventure has a bit of fear attached that must be overcome. Paul was shipwrecked multiple times, bit by a poisonous snake, received multiple death threats and was arrested again and again. Paul had many opportunities to be afraid, he could’ve used any of those events to call it quits and throw in the towel, but he didn’t. He kept going in spite of the fear he experienced. He knew who God was and wasn’t willing to let fear, as real as it was, stop him. I think it was because of his battle with fear that he was able to write to his young apprentice Timothy:
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Paul had experienced fear plenty of times and knew that Timothy had experienced similar battles with insecurity and fear. But, in the face of fear, Paul learned that he could persevere. He knew that experiencing a twinge of fear for a moment didn’t mean he had to live there. When fear began to creep up on him, he would turn to God, knowing that his power came from Him, cherishing the abundant love God showered on him, that resulted in his life being one marked by self-control.
Fear is a natural reaction to many situations around us, but that doesn’t mean we have to take up residence there. If you’ve suffered at the hand of fear, don’t be discouraged. That experience can qualify you to battle that fear and win. Accept the power and love that comes from God and walk in the self-control his presence brings.
I’m not going to let fear disqualify me. What about you?
Read more about this battle with fear at workinprogressblog.co/funny-fear