We're all afraid of someone, or something. The obvious little things come to mind: spiders, the dark, anyone who might harm my family, heights, etc. The truth is, we're a lot more afraid of the everyday than we're willing to admit.
How about your children - I'm afraid they might reject me if/when I say no. Your spouse - I'm afraid she/he will finally be fed up with how hard our marriage has been, lose interest, and leave. Your boss - all those layoffs... what if I lose my job? Your ministry - what if they see the real me, my sin, and tell me I'm not welcome? Your church - what if I ask the wrong question and they shut me down instead of helping me find the answer? Your friends - what if by telling him/her the truth, or sticking to my boundaries, they'll not want to be my friend anymore?
There is always the pat answers we tend to lean on when facing these fears. Pat answers have a way of making us feel good about ourselves but don't really answer the question we asked at all. Pat answers are like a lovely security blanket, but they don't satisfy. It's like milk toast when you're looking for meat and potatoes.
Here's the truth: you're going to be afraid, but you get to CHOOSE who and what you're going to be afraid of. In the above fears the focus is on others, on man. People are unpredictable, nonsensical and emotional. One minute a relationship is sound and the next it's falling to pieces over a broken toilet. We can't let our fear be wrapped up in people and how he will respond to our every move. We can't be waiting and wondering for her to tell us what she wants or how we should live in order to actually take hold of or life and live it. That's not the life God wants you to live. Not to mention, people pleasing is exhausting!
So what's the alternative? Living to please self? Good Lord, no. That's just as bad! You and I are no less unpredictable, nonsensical and emotional. One minute we're fine and the next we're sobbing or flying off the handle because of a broken sink. So what's the alternative?
Fear God. That fear is the beginning of wisdom. "Don't fear the one who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28). "...'We must obey God rather than man'" (Acts 5:29).
Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8). His expectations and commands for his disciples never change - "take up your cross and follow me," (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:27; 14:27). His love endures FOREVER - in Psalm 136 this is repeated 26 times in 26 verses. Seriously. When the Bible repeats something it's not a typo, it's an urge for us to pay attention! This is important! Just in case we think there might be something that can separate that love from us, something that can rip it away in a heartbeat, he gave us Romans 8:37-39: death, demons, present, future, life, angels, powers, height, depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from it. His love is steadfast.
The last few months I've been challenged to ask questions I've never taken the time to really ask before, to dig into the Word like Sherlock Holmes, unearthing every stone and smelling every odd corner for a crumb of evidence of the truth. Such questions have led me down a road of fearing how people will respond. My fear reached a point of being paralyzed to keep going forward. What if the answers I find will challenge what I've believed up to this point? What if there's more grace than I thought? What if there isn't? What will this (person/people) say if I bring this to light and it challenges his/her beliefs? Can I keep it to myself? What will they say or do if I don't? Fear, control, anxiety and more fear and anxiety.
Some might say, "Sam, it's not that big a deal." But it is. We're either walking in the light, or we're walking in the dark. We're either following Jesus as Lord, or we're not (Matthew 12:30). There's no middle ground. I want to be on His side, in the light. That means shining a light on the dark spots, calling out the shame, secrets and questions that have me hiding in the shadows.
What am I afraid of? I admit, lot. Today, I'm choosing to fear God more than man. Maybe by walking in the light I can help those who fear Him have more faith in Him.