A Year Without Fear

A Year Without Fear

The beginning of the New Year is typically a time for reflection and resolutions, a time to ask questions and seek change.

What is it that holds me back?

What controls me?

What drives my intentions and decisions?

What causes me to react in anger instead of responding in love?

What holds me back and prevents me from living life with my hands wide open?

What drives me to seek the approval of others?

Where in my life and I holding back from being vulnerable and real and why am I doing so?

For me the answer to so many of these questions is

FEAR

Fear – one of our enemy’s greatest weapons. And for many of us, it has great power in our lives. Fear whispers in our ears and tells us that we must be in control. That we can’t let down. That things won’t ever change. Fear convinces us that being safe and secure is of utmost importance. It tells us that isolation is much better than community. Fear tempts us to live in the past or the future rather than in the present. It makes us believe that it’s best to run for the hills when we are hurt and in pain. It tickles our ears with promises of protection and hope.

However what fear really offers is CHAOS and DESTRUCTION. It is CONTROLLING and DEBILITING.

Can you relate? Does fear control you?

Perhaps, at the beginning of this new year, one of your resolutions, like me, is to live a life apart from fear. But how, realistically, does this happen?

The temptation may be to will myself to make it happen. To try with all of my might to do something different.

God has not given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Only God can give us freedom from fear. It’s not something that we can will ourselves to do on our own. We can try, but chances are, long term we will fail, leaving us feeling discouraged and defeated.

To move away from something, we must move towards something.

This statement prompts a very important question: what am I moving towards? Where are my eyes fixed? What is the image that propels me to do the things that I do? Is it financial freedom, a better marriage, solving the problems in the lives of those around me, raising my children a certain way?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

This year, let us ask God to give us a more compelling image of Christ.  To be able to see who He really is and who we are in IN HIM. To understand more clearly the perfect, sovereign plan that He has for our lives, resting in the Truth that everything that happens in our lives is for our good and His glory. To really be able to grasp and be confidently assured that God loves, cherishes, and delights in us. In these realizations, fear dissipates and is replaced by confidence in Christ and His love for us.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters … He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me” (Psalm 18:17,19).

The LORD your God in your midst, 
the Mighty One, will save; 
He will rejoice over you with gladness, 
He will quiet you with His love, 
He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

You will show me the way of life,
 granting me the joy of your presence 
and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11).

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
 All humanity finds shelter 
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
 letting them drink from your river of delights” (Psalm 36:7-8).


”Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you. 
I have called your name. You are mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. 
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
 When you’re between a rock and a hard place, 
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, 
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
I paid a huge price for you: 
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
 That’s how much you mean to Me! 
That’s how much I love you!
 I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, 
trade the creation just for you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

One practice that has been helpful for me is to ask God at the end of each day where in my life I have moved towards Him and where I have moved away from Him. Interestingly, in this process of examining my day, I often find that in the places I move away from Him, I do so because of fear. Fear of the future. Fear of failing. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of not having what I need. Fear of what someone may think.  

As I take time to relinquish those fears to God, He so often brings to my mind the truth of many of the above listed Scriptures.  The truth of who He is and that He has a good and perfect plan for my life.  That He is right there with me. Every minute of every day. The reality is, unless there is some kind of imminent danger, chances are my feelings of fear are a desolation: something that pulls me away from God. A ploy from the enemy to distract, discourage, diminish, destroy.

Recently, I read this in one of my prayer books and have started praying it every day:  

“Allow me not to resent what is broken, but to trust that even my weaknesses will be turned for Your glory and my good” (Prayers for Today, Kurt Bjorklund).

One of Satan’s greatest joys would be that I would become angry, resentful, full of fear, and debilitated by the broken things in my life.  So, instead, my heart’s cry has been “God, please take the things that are broken in my life, which so often lead to fear, and remind me that You are in control of and care about every detail of my life. You have ‘seen my afflictions and know the anguish of my soul’ (Psalm 31:7).  So, please give me strength to not resent the brokenness.  But to embrace it, trusting Your plans.  Your will.  Your ways.  

In light of my propensity towards fear, the phrase that God gives me over and over is EYES UP.

Set your mind on the things above not on the things of the earth. For you have died and Your life is hidden in Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2).


This Scripture is a beautiful reminder of a life lived apart from fear and hidden in Christ. What a great truth to remember (read it out loud if necessary)!  

Because my life is hidden in Christ, there is nothing that can snatch me out of my Father’s hands (John 10:29b).  Not someone’s opinion of me.  Not my fear, my weakness, my sickness.  Not losing my temper with my kids once again and being afraid that I’ve messed them up forever. Not my sin. Not my failure. Not a bad decision. NOTHING.

So, is it really possible to live a year without fear???  Yes! Freedom from fear is one of the gifts that was purchased for us on the cross. Because of this, you and I are free to live an abundant life in Christ, free from fear.

“The thief comes to steal and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  

Where are you struggling with fear? How is it controlling you? Do you long to live a life without fear?

Today, let’s ask God today to give us a more compelling image of Christ Jesus and His deep, unchanging love for us. May these truths penetrate every area of our lives and nestle down into the depths of our souls. May we understand more fully that for those of us who are in Christ, our lives are hidden in Him. He will guide and protect us. And in the midst of it all, His presence is a promise. These truths remind us that we are FREE. Free to live a life apart from fear.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Consider Your Calling

Calling

WHO AM I?

THEY WILL NOT BELIEVE ME OR LISTEN TO MY VOICE.

I AM NOT ELOQUENT.

PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE.

Have you ever thought these things? Have you ever said them out loud? When you’ve felt that nudge, the prompting of the Spirit to speak truth, to share the Good News, or to tell your story…. have you been paralyzed with fear?

Why in the world would you speak up? Why would you put yourself out there just to fail? Are these the messages that go through your mind? Well, someone else had these thoughts too, and spoke them out loud to the living God in response to His call:

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice…” Exodus 4:1

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Exodus 4:10

But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13

Moses…who confronted Pharaoh in defense of his people.

Moses…who led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.

Moses…who stood on Mt. Sinai and received God’s Holy Law.

Yes, Moses himself felt completely inadequate for his job description. Though Moses did eventually choose to push through his doubts and step out in faith, I wonder how Paul’s exhortation to the believers in Corinth might have spoken into his very real fear of failure. For the inadequate, the unskilled, the ill-equipped, Paul pleads to

CONSIDER YOUR CALLING

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, SO THAT no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

While Paul acknowledges that there are certainly some whom God calls with great wealth and nobility, exceptional intellect or talent, or incomparable eloquence or wisdom, they are the exception in the kingdom of God. And though we have each received unique gifts to be used for His glory, God chose us not for the skill set we bring to the table, but for His own eternal purposes. When an ordinary man or woman is at the complete disposal of the King, the most insignificant, lowly Christ follower has the potential for the greatest of works in His kingdom.

“God does not need your strength: He has more than enough power of his own. He asks your weakness: He has none of that Himself, and He is longing, therefore, to take your weakness, and use it as the instrument in His own mighty hand. Will you not yield your weakness to Him, and receive His strength?” –C.H. Spurgeon

Like the saints before us, God has chosen us as the instruments to declare His goodness and grace to the world! If we think He only calls the great and mighty, we gain a whole new perspective when we read about Jacob and Gideon and Jeremiah and Peter and the list goes on… Because our sufficiency is found not in our own abilities, but in God’s power.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant.” 2 Cor. 3:4-6

Paul could not be more clear about God’s reason for choosing mostly weak, poor, ordinary vessels for His extraordinary purposes: “so that no human may boast in the presence of the Lord.” God wants all the glory. He deserves all the glory. And His majesty shines the brightest when it’s displayed in the weakest vessel. Like Moses, our inadequacy and weakness require us to rely on God’s power because we know without a doubt that we don’t have what it takes on our own. They are are not obstacles to overcome, but part of God’s sovereign design to keep us humble and dependent.

As difficult as it may be to face, our willingness or unwillingness to step out in faith to obey God’s call reveals the motivation of our hearts. If we’re paralyzed to the point of retreat with fear and anxiety over how we’ll be received, it’s an indication that our motivation is really our own glory, and not the glory of the only One who is worthy.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galations 1:10

If we have this insatiable need for the praises of men, we have believed the lie that our worth is based on our appearance and our performance (which have no value in the kingdom of God) instead of the finished work of Christ. When we live for the glory of God alone, we are willing to risk failure and rejection and even humiliation for the cause of Christ! God doesn’t desire perfection or adequacy or even ability. He only desires a willing spirit. 

So what if the worst happens? (Sometimes it does.) What if it’s a total disaster? (Sometimes it is.) What if no one listens? (Sometimes they don’t.)  But that doesn’t mean our efforts are in vain. Anything done at the prompting of the Spirit, in obedience to the Father, for the glory of God, IS NEVER DONE IN VAINEven if nothing goes as planned and we are a failure in the eyes of man, we look up to see the beaming face of our Father. Because He is not pleased with our skill or knowledge or intelligence or delivery; He is pleased with our willing hearts. And we are pleased to leave the results to Him. 

So how can we keep quiet? How can we stay silent about all the Lord has done? How can we refuse His call to tell the world about our great God? 

“Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper! You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.” Psalm 30:9-12

“Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.” Psalm 35:28

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1

Dear friend, tell your story! Speak of His faithful love! Share His goodness and glory with anyone who will listen! Be encouraged and be brave. The Lord your God is with you. And when you are bombarded with lies, weighed down in doubt, and tempted to retreat, consider your calling and “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:58 May His name be lifted high, for He alone is worthy! 

Held by Him,

Leslie

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