When fear dictates our decisions, we will never trust God.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
“Too often, our fears paralyze us and prevent us from fulfilling our purpose. We refuse to invest because of what might happen.”
“If’ is the biggest two-letter word in the English language. “What if I fall?” “What if they don’t like me?” “What if God doesn’t show up?” “What if I’m wrong?” I have one for you: What if worms had handguns?…Birds wouldn’t mess with them. We can be so focused on “what if,” that we completely miss or even neglect “what is.”
When fear dictates our decisions, we will never trust God. Instead, we will want to know all the particulars first. We want to inspect the safety nets and tug on the rigging. We want the answers up front and the game plan laid out for us. I do this when I’m driving somewhere I’ve never been. I’ll have written directions, a map, and the navigator running on my phone because I hate getting lost and despise being late. I want to know it all and understand before I get in the car. That may be helpful when driving, but we can’t live a life in Christ that way. God’s ways are not like ours; his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
The Christian life is one of uncertainty and we can never presume that we have God figured out and that we know exactly what to expect because it’s then that we have reduced God to an idol – a lifeless, graven image that our little, finite minds can understand and comprehend. We can only be certain of this: God is God, and he is both great and good. After his demonstrations of this throughout human history, that truth ought to be enough for us that we are willing to take steps of faith to follow him.
God never promised us that we would understand everything. He never said it would all work out the way we would like. The statement that “God will never give you more than you can handle” is a lie from the pit of hell. (The scripture says he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but will provide a way of escape…that is not at all the same). When the nation of Israel was to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, the priests were to go first, stepping into the Jordan while carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The river at that time was at flood stage and it was perilous. The deal was that they would, in obedience, step into the river and then God would stop up the current.
The call came first, obedience second, and the display of God’s supernatural power would follow that. We want the display first because we don’t really trust God to do what only he can do. We want the assurance, and because we refuse to move until we have it, the only current that stops up is the stream of living water that was supposed to flow out of us!
We wonder why we don’t see God do the miraculous anymore.
When we do hear about it in other parts of the world we are skeptical because that doesn’t match our experience; and honestly, we have warped our understanding of scripture in order to accommodate our shallow and watered-down experience. The reason we don’t see God part the oceans anymore is because we refuse to follow him to the shores of the Red Sea with an army in pursuit.
The reason we don’t see the lame walk is because we don’t really trust that God will, or can, heal so we pull no one to their feet.
The reason we aren’t seeing people saved (and most church growth is by member transfer anymore) is because we don’t really trust God to change a heart and so we will not risk sharing the Gospel of Christ or our own testimony. The current of living water in our lives is more like a whirlpool in our heart sucking everything down to the depths rather than a stream bringing nourishment and refreshment to those around us.
Acknowledging faith but living by fear is worse than being lost altogether. We who know better, who claim to know Jesus and entrust him with our immortal soul, will choose faith over fear. It doesn’t mean we won’t wrestle with fear, but we will overcome through Christ who strengthens us.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
~ Philippians 4:13
To claim to know Jesus but still choose a fear response is to be lost but simply not know it. Will you let your current flow? Will your life be a vessel to channel the living water of Christ to the thirsty and spiritually dry around you? Will you trust and obey so that you can experience God in new and powerful ways? Don’t worry and thus be paralyzed by what God might ask you to give up, by what he might ask you to do, by where he might send you. Simply listen for his voice and be faithful with what he is calling you to right now.
Michael Hayward is a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California and has been serving Faith Community Church of Rohnert Park, California as lead pastor since 2005.His passion is to see people grow in their love for God and their love for others by building healthy relationships through which God is experienced, glorified, and revealed to a needy world.
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