It was many years ago that I was introduced to a horror I now wish I could forget. My sister and I were at home with my aunt and uncle, who decided to rent some movies. One of the movies was something we were not allowed to watch, the other was a documentary based on the findings of the prolific novelist, Stephen King. My sister and I went into our basement and began to watch a film that would eventually change my life. Who knew that a simple investigative film into the world of a particular clown (I can’t say, or write the word) would radically alter my perception of so much. Stephen King exposed the true nature of this creature, popularly known as a *lown, as a monster of horrific proportions. Since my viewing of this eye-opening masterpiece of investigative journalism, I have found myself deathly afraid of *lowns. Even as a husband and father of two children, I cannot bring myself to even say the word let alone watch or be in the same room as one of them.
While you may, like me, have a wholly rational fear (or awareness) of something, many people harbor irrational fears that they carry throughout their adult life. Fear is a part of life that we cannot escape. While there are certainly fears of spiders, heights, dark, etc., all of which tend to be surface-level, there are also fears that are deep-seated — ones that cause more problems than we might be willing to admit. A problem we typically won’t recognize is one in which we allow our fears to prevent us from living the life that God wants for us.
At the 2016 Global Leadership Summit, Danielle Strickland, the Western Territory Social Justice Secretary of the Salvation Army, spoke about these fears. She explained that these fears manifest themselves in a tape of sorts. We place the shortcomings we think we have on this proverbial tape, and anytime God might be calling us to do something, we replay the tape, thus denying ourselves the opportunity to serve God.
What do we do with these fears?
This past weekend, Ben Snyder talked about a passage from the book of Judges about a man named Gideon. God called Gideon to something big. Gideon, however, responded with his fears about this call. When we look at God’s answer to Gideon and apply this answer to our own fears, we can begin to make steps to move past the fears and into a deeper faith with God.
At this point in Gideon’s story, which we’ll be reading throughout the week, a few things have happened.
The Israelites had turned away from God and toward the false gods of the Amorites (Judges 6:10), so God turned them over to be oppressed by the Midianites (Judges 6:1). After the Israelites cried out to God in response to the oppression, God sent a prophet to essentially tell them that because they chose the false gods, God turned them over to be protected by those false gods, which clearly hasn’t worked. Now, God calls Gideon to lead the people, but Gideon expresses his fears. He asks how God could be with them if all this bad was happening (Judges 6:13); says he can’t be the one God wants to lead because he is the weakest man in the smallest clan (Judges 6:15); and finally, just to make sure that it was God, he asks for a sign (Judges 6:17).
While this is happening, Gideon is unsure whether he was receiving this message from God. This is where we find ourselves in the story today. Right after God (or the angel of the Lord) departs, Gideon realizes that he was in his presence.
22When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23“It is all right,” the Lord replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” 24And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the Lord is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day.
Now, Gideon was afraid that since he had been in the Lord’s presence, he was going to die. God’s response to him is simple:
Do not be afraid.
The Lord was with Gideon and told him to not be afraid.
So often, like Gideon, we let our fears take over and we miss out on what God wants to do in our lives. Whether we fear something related to our relationships, job, money, security, safety, etc., we cannot let this fear consume us and hinder our trust in God and his calling.
As Ben said, fear is allowing uncertainty to redefine reality. The reality is that God is calling us to faith in him and thus action for him. Unfortunately, like Gideon, we allow our uncertainty – about many things – to redefine reality. For the past couple weeks, we have been talking about bringing certain villains into the light. With fear, though, it’s different. Fear doesn’t need to be brought into the light because it’s already there. Fear is obvious; we know what we’re afraid of. Instead, what we need to bring into the light is our uncertainty, and then we can ask the question, “who does God say I am?”
This is what Ben called “true humility,” mainly, “agreeing with God about who we really are.”
You may not have the same fear as Gideon; however, your fears can get in the way of realizing and accepting the way in which God views you: as his son or his daughter. Like the song we listened to this past weekend says, you are no longer a slave to fear, you are a child of God.
We need to take these uncertainties and place them on the altar of Yahweh-Shalom. Not a physical altar, but a metaphorical one. We need to offer these uncertainties up to God and ask that he give us peace and patience as we define and navigate our reality.
What are some uncertainties you’ve allowed to redefine your reality? It could be uncertainties about your finances, relationships, jobs, etc.
How can you offer these up? (Who can you talk to?)
Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercies and your grace. Thank you for loving me enough to point out the areas in my life where I am operating in fear rather than trusting in you. Help me to bring my uncertainties into the light so that I can live in freedom. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy is the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study. He has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people and for Christian Apologetics. He is married with two young children. You can follow him on twitter @andyrectenwald.
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