What are YOU afraid of?
We are all afraid of something and often it doesn’t make sense. When I was a kid, I was terrified someone was going to break into our house and didn’t want to sleep alone. It seems I may have passed that on to my sweet 6 year-old daughter who is often scared to go almost anywhere by herself, even inside our house. Her fear revolves around raccoons and hawks (there was some trauma related to our pet chickens, but it’s a long story). Even though I know that there isn’t any way a raccoon or hawk could ever harm her inside her house, it doesn’t mean I can convey that to her no matter how hard I try. And it doesn’t make her fear seem any less real to her. As much as I’d like to say I always have patience and empathy with her fears, at times it’s easy for me to see it as irrational, unwarranted, or untrue. It seems like it’s often much easier for someone else to see the falsehood or lie behind a fear than for us to see the same thing in our own fears.
This made me ponder how God looks at me when I have fear over something that is based in a lie. I might believe I’m not good enough, that he’s disappointed in me, that I’ll never change or that God isn’t really big enough or doesn’t care enough to deal with my problem. I think this is why God says so many times throughout the Old and New Testament “not to fear” or “do not be afraid.” I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that there are 365 mentions of this in the entire Bible, one for each day of the year. If not being afraid is so important, maybe we should pay attention to it.
In the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-36), it’s a beautiful picture of fear and Jesus’ response. The rest of the disciples are stuck in fear still on the boat (even after witnessing the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000). But Peter summons his courage and as his eyes are fixed on Jesus, gets out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. Everything is going fine, but then it seems like something changes as his eyes and attention shift back to his fear, his circumstances and doubt begins to creep in. Jesus grabs his hand and gently reminds him not to “let doubt win” (Matthew 14:31 TPT). Jesus doesn’t scold him, guilt him, he doesn’t turn his back but gently extends his hand. He’s essentially saying, “keep your eyes on me and let me remind you of what’s true, about how good I am, and how much I love you and how I’m always with you and for you.”
Peter was the “Rock”of the Church and spent his days with Jesus. And even he at times went back into a fear based thinking, even in the midst of a miracle where he was literally walking on water! How often do I fall into being fearful and believing a lie, even one that God has reminded me over and over again is untrue and defies who he is or who I am in him? I think it’s important to spend time in silence and solitude, telling God in truth what our fears are and letting him remind us what is really true. But I also think this is most valuable to do in community, in relationship with others. Just like I can see the lie at the root of the fear with my daughter, I think God uses others to speak truth at times when we are stuck in the lie based fear and can gently remind us what is true about God and ourselves when we don’t see it.
Take a few minutes to think about what you are afraid of and where fear manifests itself in your life. What lie are you believing about yourself or God? Tell God the truth about it and ask him what he wants you to know about your fear or the lie you are believing.
If you are comfortable, share that with a friend, someone you trust, or in a community group. It’s when we are authentic with each other, when our fears are exposed and truth in love prevails that we are truly transformed to be more like Christ.