So last week at church the message was about fear and I thought it would be good to bring up on the blog today. It never fails that just when I get a great idea about a creative endeavor, fear pops up to tell me I can’t do it. It will be too hard or what will people think? Is it too “edgy?” Will I get judged? I faced a lot of fear when I wrote the book I published. I spent so many hours pouring myself into it that it felt like I was laying myself open on the page, exposed, and vulnerable. I was so afraid of what people would think when they read it that it was a real struggle to even get it produced.
But I’ve always known that writing is part of God’s purpose for me. (This blog is part of that!) So I had to make a decision. Was I going to let fear stop me from doing the things God has called me to do? Was I going to sit around and let fear rule my life and always wonder, what if I had done that thing? So I decided I was going to move forward no matter what I felt like. I put up a little index card on my wall that said, “God, I trust You.” I was making my declaration that I would trust God no matter what and keep working.
I can think of many times I did let fear stop me. Have I told you the story of when my family was on vacation in London? We were in the British Museum and I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me to pray for this woman. I froze. I had a thousand excuses. I was in another country — would she accept my prayer? Is that a cultural taboo, something you just don’t do? I was in public. My parents were with me — I was young and they hadn’t really seen the “ministry” side of me… what would they think about me stopping to pray for this woman? Ultimately, the moment passed and the window of opportunity closed while I was stuck deciding. I have thought back to that moment many times since and sometimes wonder what would have happened in her life if I had been obedient. I just have to trust God that He brought someone else to her path to pray for whatever she needed. As I’m writing this now, I realize I can still pray for her from right here, but at that moment, I knew it meant to pray WITH her, right then, out loud and in public. And I didn’t. I’ve always seen that moment as a failure. Something I knew I was supposed to do and I didn’t do it. But because of that, I made a point to immediately do whatever I feel prompted to do no matter how crazy it feels in the moment. Even if I risk embarrassment, I am determined not to let another God-ordained moment to slip by me. But this means that I had to make a decision to trust God no matter what (there’s that decision again!). That when I feel led, I don’t think, I trust. I just do the thing. This also means working on being surrendered to God at all times so I can feel those promptings when the Holy Spirit nudges. It’s not always a big clear directive like it was that day at the museum, so how will I know it when it comes along if I’m not surrendered to obedience and determined to trust God no matter what?
I share these stories because I know we all deal with fear. It’s not the same situation for each of us. I don’t know the last time you were at a museum and called to pray for a specific person, but the point is, fear is universal. We all have things that we want to do but we’ve let fear hold us back from the fullness God has for us. And that brings me to the illustration. This is something I drew during the sermon while my husband was preaching his message about fear. In this picture, it could be read two ways. The first way shows the young man with his head down, hiding his face, allowing the fear to speak to his mind. You know, fear never stops speaking. Because it’s a tool of our enemy. Our enemy’s one goal is to destroy anything we’re trying to do for God. So if he can use fear to derail you, he will. Fear can be a constant voice in your mind if you let it. That’s why we need to recognize it and stop it. I stopped it by making a decision to trust God no matter what. That doesn’t mean fear stopped speaking to me, it’s still there trying to stop me from doing the things I’m called to do — but I just decided I don’t listen to it anymore. It will say, but what if I fail? And I say, it doesn’t matter if I fail. I’m going to do what God wants me to do and if I fail, then at least I will be caught trying to do the right thing and not stuck in the ditch of life not doing anything because fear won’t let me move forward. But I digress LOL. So just as fear will never cease, you know who else is always speaking to us? The Holy Spirit. We just don’t always listen. So the second way to look at this picture is that this young man is in a posture of prayer listening to the Holy Spirit. Fear is still there trying to get his attention, but Psalms 5:12 says that God blesses the righteous and surrounds them with His favor like a shield. The Holy Spirit can be our shield and protect us from anything the enemy throws at us, but we have to be sensitive to His leading. We have to surrender and turn our hearts toward Him to hear His voice leading us.
For journaling this week, take some time to write out the ways that fear has stopped you in your life. Has fear stopped you from doing the things you know God is calling you to do? Brainstorm some ways you can do the things despite the fear. Write some note cards and post them on the wall your determination to trust God no matter what. Memorize Psalms 5:12.
For those of you who may have missed the drawing during service, here is the time-lapse replay (it’s like 40 seconds LOL).