How do we learn to fear?
Is it ingrained in us by our parents or is there a fear gene? Maybe we get burned and become overly cautious. We can all admit fear isn’t always bad. It protects us from danger.
“That lion looks hungry…”
“That ledge looks narrow.”
“Run, Daphne! I see a clown!”
Fear insulates us from the world around us and keeps us moving when situations look grim, but it also restricts us. Maybe you’re like me in this way. You’ve got the self-preservation part down, but that same fear that protects you also keeps you from doing new things.
Several years ago, my family started attending a church teaching extensively on hearing God’s voice.They encouraged us to partner with God’s activity and not simply ask God to bless ours.Our church encouraged us to partner with God’s activity and not simply ask God to bless ours. Click To Tweet This was challenging for us. My wife and I both were raised in the Church. Aside from the Bible, what else did God have to say? We learned quickly God loves it when His people listen to Him.
We began trying new things.
When a friend told us he was sick or sad, we asked if we could pray for him in that moment. When we were at home reading our Bibles, we asked God if He had anything to say to us. It was a time of deeper experiences with God, as if we finally understood what Mary felt sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was bustling about. We learned about who we were in Christ and who He is to us. It was beautiful and natural and easy.
Until one day at work…
I was walking down the hall through the offices when I heard it.
“Tell her she’s a fire hydrant.”
For a few seconds, I stood in the hallway (probably looking lost or confused to the Purchasing department). I was terrified. Then I did a courageous thing. I knocked on Amanda’s door.
“Can I come in and shut the door?”
“Sure…is everything ok?”
I froze, knowing I was going to regret what I was about to say. Then it came out.
“Amanda, I feel like God wants you to know you’re a fire hydrant.”
I braced myself for confusion, for anger, to be completely rejected and then kicked out of her office.
But instead, Amanda wept.
A few weeks prior, her husband moved into his own apartment. Married for 20 years, she felt confused, rejected, and afraid. She was losing her husband, and she wondered how it could ever get any better.
Oh! And he was a firefighter.
As we talked, I felt the Lord urging me into greater boldness.
I told her she was a fire hydrant for Bradley, her husband. She was a source of life and from her flowed the goodness God wanted him to have in his life. I encouraged her not to give up on him. He was afraid too. He would eventually come back. I prayed with her then I left her office.
Within two months, Bradley was back home with her, and they were in counseling together. They found a Christian therapist who coached them in their marriage and encouraged them in the Lord. They took root in a local church and later that summer, Amanda came to me all smiles.
“Chip, thanks so much for praying for Bradley and me. We’re pregnant! We’ve been struggling with infertility since we had our son, and now we’re pregnant! We’re so happy!”
I couldn’t have been happier myself. Of course, God was smirking during this whole conversation, proud I’d obeyed, but shaking his head that I still didn’t get it. When I obeyed the Lord in faith, God’s kingdom showed up. When I obeyed the Lord in faith, God’s kingdom showed up. Click To Tweet Was it really that hard a lesson for me to get?
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. (ESV)
When it comes to fear, we can learn two things from these verses.
First, believe. Did you know we always live out our priorities? Do you want to know what you believe? Look at what you do. Does your life reflect a belief God works miracles and answers prayer? If it does, all you need to do is open your mouth.
Second, speak. You have been given the same spirit of faith that filled the first disciples. These are the same men and women who walked on water, raised the dead, and stormed the world with the good news of Jesus. Friend, that power lives in you. Be bold. That’s not to say you’re fearless but you move where God is going despite your fear.
What’s that next bold faith step for you?
Is it offering to pray for someone you don’t know?
Maybe it’s obeying God’s call on your life to move to another city or country and gather new followers for Jesus. Whatever it is, go do this: write it down, post it where you’ll see it, then go do it.
That’s your mission, and God is calling you to it.
Please share your next steps on the comments below.
Chip Mattis is a graduate from Greenville University and holds a BA in Philosophy and Religion. He and his wife, Jessie, live and work in Bloomington, IN and are busy raising three children under the age of twelve. His kids bring out the silliness and the sentimentality that fill his writing. Chip loves Jesus, is an unapologetic Marvel nerd, and would love the world to be full of stories. Check out his blog at chipmattis.com and follow him on Twitter @twelve2nds.
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