I wanted that carefree release. Because here’s the thing about fear.
Fear steals joy.
I can never really experience full joy when part of me is living in fear. I don’t want pockets of happiness or moments of fun. I want to live day to day to day in deep, abiding, peace-filling joy. But fear clouds all that.
Because fear robs us of today.
We cannot live in this moment that God has given us if we are fearing unknowns that might lurk around the corner. We’ve catapulted ourselves into an imaginary tomorrow over which we have no control. And in so doing, I miss out on the beauty and wisdom and moments of right now.
Finally – and I think this is huge – fear paralyzes us from obeying God.
God may call us to do something that to us looks completely unreasonable and infeasible. God’s ways are not our ways and we don’t have God’s vision to see how it’s all going to work. And so fear prevents us from stepping out in faith and we miss what God has for us.
Several years ago, I read a biography on Marco Polo to my kids. While Marco’s father, Niccolo, was conducting his trade business in China, he met Kublai Khan. The Khan, who reigned over a vast Asian empire, was curious about Christianity and asked Niccolo Polo to return to Italy and bring back to China 100 priests who could teach Christianity.
But Niccolo Polo was unable to find 100 priests willing to brave the dangerous roads to China. He did find two priests and the little band, now with his young son Marco, set out for China. However, not far into the journey, the two priests turned back, fearful of the dangers and unknown lands that would have to be traversed to get to China.
So not one priest went. The Polos? They made it safely to China and were given unchartered access to the Khan’s court. Marco Polo immersed himself in Chinese culture and language and was made an emissary of the Khan. For more than 17 years, Marco traveled throughout the Asian empire going into countries that had never before been reached by Europeans. source
That story has stayed with me. Fear paralyzes us. It keeps us from following God in obedience. From getting off go. Defeated.
I really don’t want to look back in 40 years (30? 20?) and wonder what life would have looked like had I just trusted God. I want joy, I want to live fully in this day and I want to follow God in faith without fear.
So there have been two more keys for me in kicking fear to the curb.
First, I have to believe – really, truly, in every cell of my being — that God is sovereign. God is sovereign over me, over my children, over the events of our lives, over the events of this world.
That means that as a believer, everything that happens in my life is either caused by God or permitted by God.
God reveals Himself as sovereign in so much of scripture. One of my favorite places is Psalm 139. God assures us that He knows everything about us ~
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
And that we are never outside of His presence ~
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
And amazingly, that He is sovereign over every one of our days this side of heaven ~
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
When I find myself succumbing to fear, I’ve forgotten Who’s in charge. If I’m in control? There’s a lot to fear. If it’s random fate? Well, the possibilities are endless. But if I remember that there is a God who rules this universe and — more personal than that — rules over me? THAT wipes out fear and I can rest in His sovereign plan.
Finally, I can rest because this sovereign God is GOOD.
We say it; we sing it. But do we take the lies of fear captive to this truth?
It’s not that He chooses to act good toward me today. He IS good. It is His very nature and He can be nothing else. He operates in goodness and treats us with goodness; His purposes are good and His will for us is good.
Let’s push pause one more time. I have one more key to share and Lord willing a beautiful reminder for you to print.
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