When my daughter was eighteen months old, she was attacked by a dog. While happily playing in the rec room at a friend’s house, their dog, a large, playful poodle mix with curly white hair, escaped from the basement and bounded toward Jaden, knocking her over, pinning her down, and licking her face—tail wagging all the while. Of course, my daughter didn’t interpret this as a joyful greeting, and she screamed at the top of her lungs. It took me almost ten seconds to get to her, but by then, the fear of dogs was lodged firmly in her little heart.
For years afterward, even into her preteen years, she was terrified of dogs. All rationale would flee when she saw a dog approaching, one of any size, and she would scream and run. On many occasions, she absolutely refused to get out of the van if there was dog outside, or she would frantically try to climb up her daddy after spotting a dog as we walked down the sidewalk. I tried over and over to help her rationalize her fear, explaining that most dogs were friendly and encouraging her to reach out and pet a friendly canine, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Fear dominated.
As a child, I remember being afraid of a few things as well. A black sky would send me running for my bed where I’d bury myself under the blankets in fear that we would be swept upward in a tornado. My parents’ discussions about money, specifically the lack of it, made me fear that we would end up living in a cardboard box. And my fear of being ridiculed kept me from living my faith too loudly in high school.
Fears that we had as children change as we grow. They don’t disappear, but remains a constant companion until we deal with them. Like an unwanted guest, fear plagues our homes, our decisions, and our relationships. It’s likely that everyone fears something: the loss of a loved one, being alone, financial insecurity, being authentic in relationships, making an important decision, or a whole host of other unknowns that lurk like shadows in the dark.
The truth is, God did not give us spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), so if fear exists in our lives, we can be sure that it didn’t come from our Father. If we are going to move forward in faith, we need to leave our unwelcome companion, fear, behind.
Beth Moore writes, “Fear is robbing us blind of our joy and drenching the fire of our callings” (The Quest 2017, 33). Fear keeps us huddled safely in our comfortable routines and unaware that we are missing the adventure God has designed for us. We miss the opportunity of seeing God at work in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. We miss out on the blessing God has waiting for us on the other side of the unknown.
Fear drives more decisions than we care to admit. When fear is in the driver seat, controlling the direction of our lives, it will always lead us to a much smaller life than God planned for us. Only faith can bring us a broad and abundant life and move us confidently forward on our journey with God.
Fear and faith are polar opposites. They cannot coexist. They cannot occupy the same space in our hearts. Either fear occupies our hearts and we succumb to its demands, or faith fills our hearts and leads us to trust God in the unknown.
DO NOT BE AFRAID
God repeatedly tells us not to be afraid. Over 350 times, the words “do not be afraid” are etched on the pages of Scripture. Knowing this world is a scary place, this command would be ridiculous if God had not given us reasons to be unafraid.
Undoubtedly, the presence of God gives us the greatest reason not to fear. He has promised again and again to walk with us through difficulty and give us peace, wisdom, and a faith in His ability to work all things together for good. But we must make the decision to replace fear with faith.
Trust is the right response when facing fear. Granted, this is much easier said than done. When we are afraid, we need to ask God to remind us about what is true. Our God is great and awesome. He is a shield to us, and He has promised never to fail or forsake us. This doesn’t mean that every ending will be happy—but it means that God will be present. You see, our desire for more of God’s tangible presence must be greater than our desire for Him to fix a situation.
I don’t know how many times that I’ve imagined a calamity of any sort. Early in our marriage, whenever my husband was ten minutes late coming home, I was sure that a horrific car accident had claimed his life. Now, when my kids don’t walk through the door on time, I imagine that they’ve been abducted. Every pain in my body can quickly turn into cancer in my mind.
I’m so tired of these vain images that consume me and rob me of my peace. I want Psalm 112:7 to be true of me: I will not fear evil tidings. My heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Do I hear an amen?
Remember that girl—my daughter—who was dominated by a fear of dogs for years? I watched her battle many fears throughout her young childhood, when, amid a particularly fearful few days, we were sitting in the front row at church as the pastor talked about fear and making the choice to trust God. She whispered that she thought God was talking
to her. The very next morning she marched straight into the situation that had caused her anxiety for days without even a glance backward at her proud mama. Her heart is steadfast, trusting in her God.
Will you join me on a journey towards Relentless Faith? Download my Bible Study Relentless Faith: Trust in a God who moves mountains
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