Fear of flying still ranks high on the list of phobias in our country, probably because of  9-1-1. But what about  the fear of flying “spiritually?” What makes Christians so chickenhearted about spreading their wings? And how can we overcome our fear and find the freedom God wants for all His children?

But before we look at some steps we can take when we find our spiritual planes are grounded, let’s look at what flying “spiritually” means. To some, it may mean overcoming any fears that keep you from serving God the way you want. To others, it may mean discovering–and living up to your full potential in Christ. And to others, it may mean learning how to make the best of what life has dealt you.

Whatever it may mean to you, here are six steps that may help you spread your spiritual wings and fly:

1. Admit Your Desire to Fly

Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking. Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness (Psalm 55:5-7, NIV).  Ever feel like you “wanna get away?” King David the Psalmist did. In these verses he agonized over the betrayal and treachery of his trusted counselor Ahithophel and his own rebellious son, Absalom. He longed for escape, just to get away from it all.

Many of us have uttered that same prayer, stemming from weariness, overwhelming cirumstances, or extreme discouragement, maybe even an unexplained fear that someone–or something–has clipped our wings permanently. But getting away is not always the solution. God often uses unpleasant or stressful situations to push us to the edge of our current “nest.” Tell Him you really want to move beyond your current state. Tell Him you want to fly.

2. Confess Your Fears and Excuses for Remaining Grounded.

Afraid of falling, or worse, afraid of failing? Not strong enough! Not smart enough! Too old! Too young! “Flying” is too risky! Don’t like surprises! Sometimes listing our fears and excuses in black and white helps us connect visually with what really makes us fearful. In one particular season of my life, I allowed fear of failure to keep me grounded. In still another season, I encountered a fear of success. But when I examined those fears through God’s microscope, I saw them reduced to a minute and workable size.

3. Be Willing to Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone.

You’ve always done it this way? Try a different approach. Stretch yourself. Trust God more. Worry less. Challenge yourself in small ways if necessary, and reward yourself for every accomplishment, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. When He knows you want to give Him the glory, God wants you to succeed! In church ministry through the years, God stretched me by allowing me to teach in various age groups. I ultimately discovered the one that fit the most, but God taught me much about trusting Him when I was willing to try something new.

4. Consider the Alternative

You can stay where you are and never take a risk, but you might miss the adventure God has planned for you. God never asks us to take impossible risks on our own. Abram (Abraham) left everything familiar to travel to an unknown destination (Genesis 12) that God would show him. But the adventure was God’s idea, not Abram’s. And it required a constant trust in God’s ability to lead–and that what God had promised would ultimately materialize. A son in his 90s? Impossible. But not to God. Abraham’s obedience to “fly” with wings of faith resulted ultimately in blessing for us as faith believers, too. But what if he hadn’t obeyed?