A girl moving away from home for the first time.
A gymnast taking the floor for the gold medal.
A Jesus follower sharing the gospel.
What do these three scenarios have in common? They all are preceded by fear. As the girl hugs her mom for the last time in a couple of months, as the gymnast steps up the the audience of millions and as the Christian risks the friendship he holds dear, they all hold fear.
Does this mean that they are the wrong path, though? I think not.
Fear doesn't always signal to us that we venture on the wrong journey. Rather, it sometimes shows us that we are following the right one.
God tells us countless times through His word not to fear. I recently read Joshua 1:9 where the Lord encourages this young man on the verge on conquesting powerful enemies. He says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
I don't know about you, but I would be pretty scared to go into a foreign land and fight a bunch of peoples much stronger than mine. I would grasp any way out, after all, we humans don't prefer to live in fear. To not fear looks to us like running away from what causes us to fear.
God has another way, though.
For although God doesn't want us to live in fear, He doesn't want us to quake and shrink back from the scary things in life. He didn't say to Joshua, "You know what, this is a pretty scary circumstance, so you don't need to fear. Go back to the place you stayed before and walk away from what causes you to fear." No, He instructed Joshua not to fear but to be strong and courageous because He, the Lord, would go with Him into this scary battlefield.
That's the difference.
Joshua no longer faced his fears alone.
And so he replaced his fears with the perfect love of God and depended not upon his own strength, but upon the strength of the Creator of the universe. He ceased fearing not because he left the darkness, but because he went with the light.
There is a lot of darkness right now, and it is scary. It is scary to move to strange places, risk friendships, be intentional and do something about the future. It is scary to share the gospel and obey Christ with everything that we have. But we are not called to turn away from these fears but run towards them with the Light of Christ with us.
Last Sunday, we sung Hillsong's "Oceans" in church. The song arouses a strong emotion of faith, of trust and of sacrifice. But something occurred to me this Sunday. I realized that following Jesus upon the waters doesn't always mean I won't be afraid at first. Sometimes, most of the time, it is scary.
And these fears tell me, tell us, not that we chose wrong, but that Jesus is leading us to deeper waters, waters that only He can control. That is why I take comfort in my fears because they remind me, hour by hour, minute by minute, that I need Jesus for this. The darkness reminds me that I can't do this without the Light.
That makes all the difference.
So when you catch yourself fearing the life to which Christ calls you, let these fears encourage you. Let them guide you to a Savior who can calm every storm. Let these fears make you brave.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." -- 1 John 4:18