“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
It’s hard sometimes. To not be anxious. To not be worried or stressed about events in life. General pressures, work situations, mistakes, unexpected occurrences, can all have us anxious. And who hasn’t felt anxious? Who hasn’t been worried, apprehensive, fearful, uneasy, perturbed, disquieted, troubled, agitated, tense, stressed, overwrought…. over something in life?
But here is Paul, telling us not to be anxious ever! He doesn’t ignore the fact that we may have cause to be worried. Instead he offers us a solution, by taking the situation to God, we can trade our anxiety for His peace. Our worry for His rest. God’s peace means tranquillity, calm, freedom from internal strife. You’re still in the storm but God’s peace prevails in your heart and mind. In essence, we can pray and not worry as we give our concerns to the Lord.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.’ (1 Peter 5:7)
The wibbly wobblies is what a friend of mine calls them. Those moments when you confidence and faith gets a little shaky. When you’re standing in faith for breakthrough, healing or a miracle and it seems that you’ve stepped a little to close to the edge of a cliff and if you’re not careful you’ll fall off. It’s as if fear has spread its tentacles and clutches at your spirit to drag you down and there is little you can do to stop succumbing to it and the terror that goes with.
It’s at these moments that you need to clamber with all your strength to safer ground. I guess that is what Paul meant when he said that we were to take captive every thought.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
It is about stopping and arresting the thoughts the moment they start to come not giving in to their power and pretence that they are truth no matter how logical or probable they seem.
It means turning to the Scriptures to remind yourself of God’s promises. It’s feeding on testimonies of faith and not giving the fear oxygen. It’s the declaring of God’s Word over your situation. It means not giving up, giving in, ever!
And it means putting confidence in God who specialises in the impossible! And who is on your side and will not let you fall!
“But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength.” (2 Timothy 4:17)
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.” (Hebrews 11:1)
With three little boys I am often privy to discussions on superheroes and who is better – superman or batman and if they could which one they would be. More recently the conversations have been on the merits of the various Thunderbird planes. It would be nice to think that we had at our disposable Superman’s super powers, batman’s tool belt or a thunderbird rocket to shoot off on rescue missions.
Hold that thought then! In the spiritual realm we are anything but defenceless. God has provided us all with many weapons and tools to fight against the enemy and his weapons. He in fact has given us a full armour! Superheroes watch out!
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Faith is a weapon. It is something that we need to keep active – all the time. A shield is no use if it is not put to use. And when our shield of faith is up, fear flees. Faith fights. It contends, it endures.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
Fight fear with faith!
I had rattlesnake for dinner the other night. Rattlesnake and cactus “fries” to be exact. I was as brave and daring as Bear Grylls. True, mine was served on a dinner plate in a restaurant and I hadn’t had to kill the thing or eat it raw. It came fried and properly cooked. I was still brave though, especially given none of my fellow colleagues (including the locals!) were game enough to order the same and were just as excited to take photos of the dinner and me eating it as I was!
Actually, when it comes to food, I’m always up for a challenge. I’ve eaten snails, crocodile, Egyptian pigeon, an entire raw onion to name a few. As I child I even took to eating the occasional weed! No I wasn’t starved as a child, I just liked the tanginess of it! As it turns out eating weeds is a forgotten art currently undergoing a renaissance in French cuisine, so I may have just been ahead of my time.
So yes I am rather brave and daring when it comes to trying new food. Going to the dentist, having the flu injection and finding a spider is an entirely different matter. Petrified, fearful are definitely apt descriptions of how I feel when confronted with those. Feeling fear is normal however, an expected part of life. The challenge is do we live a life constrained by our fears? Do our fears become limits on what we experience? More importantly do we let our fears over ride the call of God on our lives and prevent us from walking into the fullness of the life that God has purposed us for?
I am reassured by how many times in the Bible God said “do not be afraid”, or “fear not”. I’m definitely not alone in feeling fear and am rather good company – Joshua, Gideon and Moses all had God encourage them not to be afraid. The key though, is that each time with the reassurance from God to not be afraid, the person had to walk through that which had scared or intimidated them. Action was required. They had to push through their fear. As much as I can’t ignore the need to go to the Dentist (eek!) I must respond to the call of God on my life and even though I am afraid, I must push past the feeling of fear and embrace what God has for me.
What is God telling you to not be afraid of? What is He asking you to do? Time to get your Bear Grylls on and be brave.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Fearless – showing a lack of fear
Fearless – bold, courageous, daring, plucky. That was definitely me this weekend, Exploring the sights of Rotorua we did the big splash (as in sitting in a boat while it plunges into the water at great speed!). Not one for heights or hurtling at great speed towards earth it was not my cup of tea. I choose the word fearless here as I know inside I was definitely petrified, I was just not showing it. Given I was sitting beside my 6 year old son, I felt it was important for him to not see me freaking out (this time anyway, with spiders he still gets to witness that!)
What I have decided though is feeling fear is very normal and it’s when we push through the fear (of whatever it is) that we then get to say we’re bold and plucky, daring and dynamic, confident and brave.
“Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.” (Bear Grylls)
The thing with fear is that it can be pretty insidious and if we are not careful it can control our lives. Fear of failure can keep us from going for that promotion that we know we would love. Fear of rejection can have us exhausting ourselves as we try to keep everyone’s approval. Fear of change can keep us within the confines of our nice lives, but mean we miss out on the opportunities and adventure on the other side.
Sometimes we need a little more help than just gritted teeth and sheer determination to overcome our fear. What we need is Jesus, for perfect love drives out fear. Perfect love trumps fear – EVERY TIME! A fearless life is a life lived with confidence in Jesus and not ruled by our fears.
It was one of those passing comments on a documentary that I was only half watching that totally gripped me. A documentary following people with extreme stutters receiving training to help them. One teenager, barely able to say his name, typed this on his computer to communicate why he was there – “If I could speak fluently then I could show people who I really am.”
Behind the obvious stutter, was a boy crying out to be seen for who he really is. To not be defined by his stutter. I wanted to leap through the television screen and give him a hug and say well done you brave boy! So often we are defined, boxed, judged by appearance, education, where we live – good or bad. Throw away comments by people can leave us crushed, hurt, vulnerable. What we face can negatively impact our life, our decisions, our dreams.
Our challenge is to not let the “if” in our lives rule our lives. To not let it hold us back, define us, and more importantly shut us down. In the Bible we read of people who did not let their “if” stop them. The woman who had an issue with bleeding pushed past people to encounter Jesus. Zacchaeus – much hated tax collector still climbed a tree and yelled for Jesus attention.
Watching this boy and the others along with him I saw bravery, overcomers and growing confidence. They, as one of the students said, “felt the fear but did it anyway” and “found their voice.” They refused to be defined by their “if”.
They were brave.