Overcoming Fear and Living by Faith
- Cliff Young Contributing Writer
- 2006 13 Sep
Have you ever faced a decision that seemed to be so crazy that you wondered why you were even considering it? A decision that, according to the rest of world, seemed so “un-wise” that you knew God had to have something to do with it? A decision so big that you knew it would change your life, forever?
But before I get to that, I believe one of the factors that keeps some singles from living a life that is totally sold out for the Lord and totally at peace with God (at the same time), which I believe are interconnected, is fear.
- Fear of making decisions by yourself
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of not having children
- Fear of relationships
- Fear of not having enough money
- Fear of parents dying
- Fear of dying alone
All of those thoughts have crossed my mind at one time or another and I don’t think I’m alone. In fact I know that I’m not alone.
Often times we, as Christians or not and or single or not, are faced with some sort of real life fear. For some, it becomes so debilitating that basic functioning through a day seems like the largest of ordeals. For others, it’s a lifelong struggle, one of many.
I have been successful professionally and in ministry, have stayed physically fit and in good health, continue to love and fear the Lord, but I have and continue to struggle with bouts of fear.
In my life I’ve discovered that my fear, when broken down, is usually nothing more than a lack of faith:
- Lack of faith in my abilities and talents
- Lack of faith in my gifts
- Lack of faith in my situation
- Lack of faith in others
- Lack of faith in God
According to Hebrews 11:1 (NLT), faith is the “confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”
That means that I don’t have confidence in what I hope for and I can’t find any evidence in things I cannot see. But should that keep me from living a life that God promises to all that believe in him? It shouldn’t, but it does.
There were many people throughout the Bible who struggled with the same fears, but eventually, they overcame them and had the faith to do some amazing things. Through Hebrews 11 (NLT), we are shown example after example of everyday people making huge professions of faith through their actions:
- "It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood" (v. 7)
- "It was by faith that Sarah together with Abraham was able to have a child" (v. 11)
- "It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice" (v. 17)
- "It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, confidently spoke of God’s bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt" (v. 22)
- "It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months" (v. 23)
- "It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter" (v. 24)
- "It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea" (v. 29)
- "It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho seven days" (v. 30)
And the list goes on.
Each of these and many more have taken a step by faith. None of these decisions were easy. None of these decisions came without an internal struggle. None of these decisions were popular. None of these decisions came without sacrifice. The common denominator, though, was faith in the living God, hearing His voice, and trusting Him explicitly.
Many times we are so consumed with ourselves and our situation that we don’t take time out to spend in the Word and present our requests to the Lord – "Let my supplication come before thee: Deliver me according to thy Word" (Psalm 199:170 KJ). And then take the time to wait and listen for an answer from the Lord – "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31 KJ).
Coming to a faith-based decision is a combination of cerebral (understanding the consequences of a situation logically), emotional (reacting to what your heart says) and spiritual (listening to how the Lord leads you through His Spirit). Often, depending upon your gender, one of the first two is weighted heavier than the others. In reality, we should wait until the latter becomes perfectly clear.
Take for example Abraham. There is nothing logical about his situation. And emotionally, most parents wouldn’t even think about taking their child’s life, for any reason. Abraham must have been fearful. He must have played the situation over and over in his mind, probably right up to the time he lifted his knife. There is no way he could have “reasoned” his way through the decision. But he was told to offer up his son as a sacrifice, and he did. And God blessed him and his family.
Not in any comparison to Abraham, but several years ago, I had a great job, which I loved, in the profession and career that I had planned for since I was a child. I had a nice home with family and great friends around me. And I had a great student ministry on the West Coast. I was living “my” dream.
I was presented an offer and faced with a decision to take a position in a ministry that promised to be a fraction of the pay that I was currently receiving (and a lot more work), to a place where I had never been (and knew no one), in a profession that I was not trained for. I feared being in all three situations.
By all “worldly” standards, there was no reason why I should have even considered taking the offer let alone accept it, except for a belief that the Lord was leading me to it and a desire to follow His voice.
It wasn’t an easy decision and I can’t say that I don’t look back upon it once in awhile and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t taken the job. I know that financially and professionally I would have been more “successful” in the world’s eye by not following His leading. But because my decision was bathed in prayer, and because it was a decision based on faith not fear, I can now rejoice upon the knowledge that my decision has impacted and changed the lives of many other people, hopefully more positively, forever.
I’m sure there have been many other decisions in my life where I did not choose wisely because I was afraid of what people would think, afraid of what I may look like doing so, or afraid of what I may be missing out on by not “playing it safe.” I sometimes wonder what blessings that I may have missed out on by doing so.
The image comes to mind of “Indiana Jones” in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where he and another archaeologist are asked to choose the challis from which Jesus must have drank. One chooses the one adorned with gold and jewels, thinking that must have been the one for a king, while Indiana chooses a very non-descript simple vessel, one made for a carpenter. Indiana chose wisely.
What decisions have you made by faith recently? Can you name a time where you made a decision to do something that almost seemed like reckless abandon to those who weren’t familiar with your situation or your relationship with the Lord?
When faced with your next decision that seems to be so ridiculous that it makes no sense at all, don’t overlook it too quickly. It just may be the Lord asking you to build a boat in the desert, give up something dear to you, or lead a group of people through a sea.
Fear when faced with faith gives strength.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to "Sandlot Stories" (ARose Books). An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].