LIVING IN FEAR
Have noticed how much fear people are living in today? There is fear of terrorism, gun violence, economic stability, technology and health care. There is also fear of change, rejection, loneliness and the complexity of life. You can add to this list the items that give you anxiety as well and we begin to see that the world today can be filled with a lot of fear!
Fear, in and of itself, is not always bad. Fear is our body’s and mind’s way of trying to keep us safe. Healthy fear of authority, consequences and God can be very helpful in our lives. But fear can also lead us down some bad paths and rob us of the life God intends for us. Fear is inevitable, you cannot escape it. but learning how to handle fear in faith can go a long way in bringing us ongoing joy and peace.
There is an interesting story in the Old Testament book of Numbers that can teach us a lot about faith in the midst of fear. God has delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and parted the Red Sea so that they could escape and go to the promised land of milk and honey. On their journey toward the promised land, Moses sends 12 spies into Canaan to check out their destination. When the 12 spies return, Moses asks for a report. Ten of the spies say that there is no way they can go into the promised land – the people are large and strong, the towns are large and well fortified. The Israelites will be destroyed and will be no match for the inhabitants of the land. It would be better to return to Egypt and be slaves again!
Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, refuted the other spies and encouraged the people to move forward into the promised land. Yes, the people are strong and the towns are large, but our God is stronger and will be with us to deliver us as God has done so many times in the past. Besides, the land is a fruitful land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
What happened? Well, the 10 spies who feared the land won out and it took another 38 years before the Israelites made it into the promised land. God forgave them for their unfaithfulness, but a whole generation missed out on seeing the promised land and continued to wander in the wilderness (so much for Robert’s Rules of Order!). How many times in our churches or our own lives of faith has fear kept us from moving forward only to miss out on opportunities God has put before us to grow in faith and ministry?
Fear not only shows us obstacles, it can make them look much bigger. Fear usually points us that which is familiar and comfortable, keeping us at times from making appropriate changes. Fear is meant to keep us safe, even if that means we miss out on good things in life that can bring us much joy and growth. This does not mean that we live recklessly or carelessly with no regard for our own welfare or that of others. Fear can also lead us to make hasty, uninformed decisions. But when fear keeps us from trusting in God and being open to God’s call for change and growth in our lives, we can miss out on great opportunities and keep others from enjoying them as well.
The empty tomb of Easter reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God – not even our own fears. God has conquered sin, evil and death itself and gives us hope for all eternity. God promises to always be with us, especially in our fear or uncomfortableness of what the future might hold. God never calls us to do anything that God will not provide or equip us for. When we remain open to the power of God, strategically seek out facts and God’s way, and have a little courage we will continue to be a viable piece of the kingdom of God.
May we ever know the power of God’s love for us so that we may know God is with us no matter what we face or are called to overcome in this life!
Pastor Scott Sessler
November 15, 2018
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