When I started this series on fear, we looked at the Proverbs 31 woman. (Part 1 here) For years I was puzzled that she could laugh with such carefree release at an unknown future. (Part 2 here)
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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Find Part 1:: Say Farewell to Fear here
Part 2:: The #1 Way to Fight your Fears here
Part 4:: How to Cut Fear at its Root here.
Thanks, Lisa! Always timely and on point.
Sheryl Vickery says
thankyou LISA for your surrendered life. Just when I think I’m stronger in believing God and His Truth, I find myself in a season of struggle reaching out to Him with all my soul. Maybe that’s the point of my struggle. This post was a nourishing meal for me this morning!
Nikki Frank-Hamilton says
I have always wrestled with fear. I realized that God is leading me to walk a path that I may not like. I have realized that I don’t need to like it, but I need to be brave enough to go there. I know that I am not alone, but this is so hard. I am the girl who likes to fix things, to analyze them to death. And it is so hard to give up the dreams that I had that no longer fit into this life. Thanks for the verses, I always need reminders.
Lisa Appelo says
Yes, it’s especially hard when life hasn’t turned out like we planned it. But God. He promises us full joy in Him. xoxo to you today.
I keep re-reading this so it will sink in. I worry a lot! I feel like if I can outline everything in my head and prepare, then life will go smoothly. That’s a big negative. I need to remember who’s in control and let Him make the plans! Jesus take the wheel.
Lisa Appelo says
Ansley (I love that name), I pray it will sink in deeply. You probably have a great gift of administration and God will use that mightily but I pray you can rest in His goodness over you. 🙂
Karen Del Tatto says
Thank you so much for this post! I have been a lifelong worrier. The Lord has definitely strengthened me in this area over time, but I can still succumb. The Lord promises that He has come so that we may have life and have it abundantly.
Your reminders of God’s sovereignty were just what I needed to read this week.
Thanks for sharing!
Lisa Appelo says
Karen, it’s something we have to continually fight against. But God has already settled it and He is sovereign over us. Thank you for reading and commenting!
These articles were such an encouragement to me. Fear is something that I really struggle with at times. Thanks for the pointing people to the truths of God’s Word to defeat it.
Christa Sterken says
Well spoken Lisa, I appreciate this encouragement. Fear isn’t something we beat once, it seems. Instead something we continue to need to tackle
I actually found this through a link on Pinterest ? I have been battling fear and its thievery of my joy and ️️Gods peace. I am a wife and mom to grown daughters with 3 grands. I fight fear over my family and all the ️what ifs. Your story and your faith have blessed and encouRaged me greatly. Thank you
Thank you for this reminder.i fight over struggle with fear and the unknowns.i need this.thank you for your blogs.