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 – 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).
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,