Fear- Why We Often Don't Step Out In Faith

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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For the past couple of years I've had a fear of fish. It all comes from an experience when I came face to face with a catfish underwater. Ever since, I've been afraid to go into lakes, especially when I couldn't see the bottom.

While on vacation, my sister begged me to go swimming with her and since it was so hot I agreed. We played around in the water for a while, but I never went in past my waist because to go deeper would meant I couldn't see the bottom and see whether or not there were any fish there. Finally my sister got fed up with me staying so close to shore and said, "Kristen look around and ask yourself 'do I trust God' and if the answer is 'yes', then jump into the water." So, not wanting her to think I don't trust God I prepared to make the jump.

While Erin stood in front of me a couple of feet, ready with her hands outstretched to pull me up if I panicked, I lunged forward. Just as my shoulders hit the water, I saw the black water and I grew afraid. I quickly used my feet to spring up and get out of the water. In the process I almost injured myself and I pushed Erin under water, but I didn't trust Erin enough to reach for her hands. As I ran towards the dock, Erin starred at me in disbelief. I had come so close, yet so far at the same time.

As I sit here now and think back on my experience (while far, far away from the lake) I can really relate this experience to many other experience in my life and I'm sure in yours too. How many times does God bring us to a place in our lives where the water looks black and scarey and we are afraid to jump in even though God wants us to. How many times does God stand with His hands stretched out ready to catch us if we stumble or fall, and instead of falling into His arms, we pull ourselves up because in order to Rely on someone else's strength would mean we'd have to admit our own weakness.

Here's a little story about what a factor fear played on one person... With everyone concerned about the current random shooting, perhaps we have gotten more uptight than we realized ... On a warm afternoon in late summer, a lady went to buy her groceries. After making her purchases, she placed the grocery bags in her backseat. Remembering some things she need from a discount department store, she locked her car and went to finish shopping.
A little while later she got back to her car, started the engine, and drove home. As she drove down the highway, to her horror, she heard three POPS, then felt something hit her on the back of the head! Holding one hand over the wound, she managed to drive herself to the emergency room of the local hospital. Screaming for help that she had been shot, she got instant attention!
Upon arrival, the doctor said, 'Move your hand so I can see the wound.' The woman answered, 'I can't! My brains will fall out!'
Finally the doctor convinced her to let him examine the wound. As she removed her hand from the back of her head, the doctor discovered that she had been hit in the back of the head by canned biscuit dough!
After much laughter and relief, the doctor noted that he had seen a lot of 'wounds' in his career, but never one inflicted by biscuit dough! Aside from acute embarrassment, the lady was sent home unharmed. Maybe one moral of this story is to be careful, but not to be uptight.

See what fear did to one person? See what fear can do to yourself?
I think we often don't realize is how much our fear prevents us from reaching the potential that God has for us. Let's face it, when we are afraid, just like I wouldn't trust my sister, we don't trust God. He puts us in a situation and is there for us, but we'd rather hang onto a life preserver than jump into His lifeboat. God doesn't want us to fear and like Lloyd Ogilure noted, the phrase 'fear not' appears 366 times in the Bible- one for every day of the year including leap years! Doesn't that say something to you about the way God works. He knows we like to live in fear, but He doesn't want us to. Over and over in the Bible it is fear that threatens to keep people from trusting and obeying God. Fear. Not lack of resources, not lack of status, not even the attitude of 'I don't want to." Fear. Just imagine what we would do if we didn't fear so much. We'd witness more, we'd reach love more, we'd stand up for what is right, and we'd be more active in our faith because isn't it fear that stops us from doing these things? I'm afraid of what people will think of me, I'm afraid to fail, I'm afraid to turn people away from Jesus, I'm afraid of being rejected. Don't you see that if we didn't fear we'd make so much more of an impact for God? Don't you see that God can't work through us if we are afraid? Don't you see that we have nothing to be afraid of? In Romans, Paul states that if God is for us who can be against us. And since God is for us, please understand, that there is no one that can stand against you. We have the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on our side, so we have absolutely no reason to be afraid. Regarding fear, Max Lucado notes:

We need to remember that the disciples were common men given a compelling task. Before they were the stained-glassed saints in the windows of cathedrals, they were somebody's next-door-neighbors trying to make a living and raise a family. They weren't cut from theological cloth or raised on supernatural milk. But they were an ounce more devoted than they were afraid, and as a result, did some extraordinary things.

Don't you find that amazing. The disciples "were an ounce more devoted than they were afraid." It doesn't mean they didn't have any fears, but it means that their devotion to God outweighed any fears that were tossed their way. Peter was afraid to get out of the boat, but he had more faith than fear and was able to walk on water. Jacob was afraid to meet Esau, but he had more faith than fear and was able to reunite with his brother. Nehemiah was afraid to approach the king, but he had more faith than fear and was allowed to rebuild Jerusalem. Ester was afraid to approach the king, but she had more faith than fear and the Jewish people were saved. On the other hand, the Israelites saw the powerful people living in the promised land and their fear outweighed their trust in God. As a result they wandered in the desert for forty years. Jonah was afraid to preach to the people in Nineveh, and had more fear than faith. As a result he spent some time in a whale's stomach. I guess what it all comes down to is not do you have fear, but does your fear outweigh your faith? God wants us to trust in Him: "I command you- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." You see friends, God is there to take care of us and He will never ask us to do something that He won't give us the strength for.

Do me a favor okay? This week I'd like you to go through your Bible and find one of the 366 fear not phrases in the Bible, then I'd like you to memorize it and the next time satan whispers fear into your ear, I'd like you to return the whisper with the words of Jesus "fear not". I can guartee you that if you do that, fear isn't going to stick around and you'll discover that when you step out in faith you have absolutly nothing to be afraid of.

Quotes Taken From:
Lloyd Ogilvie. Facing the Future Without Fear.
Max Lucado. The Applause of Heaven

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.