As I tucked my little boy back into bed this week after he had woken in a fright I was reminded of a time in life when fear gripped me.
I was eleven and from the outside looking in, my life looked good. There were so many positive things going on in my life. I was blessed with a loving family and great friends. I had much to look forward to.
But on the inside, an irrational fear of death had taken hold of me. I dreaded going to bed each night [as I’m sure in hindsight my parents did as well]. I didn’t want to go to sleep because I feared I wouldn’t wake up. All my Sunday School lessons on the joy of heaven weren’t meeting my growing, irrational fears. The more fear gripped me, the more my child’s mind played cruel games. I was convinced I was going to have a heart attack and not wake up. I was fast becoming physically and emotionally exhausted. My parents tried all the tricks in their parenting book. They even had my GP give me a full medical check-up and a glowing bill of health. “But what did he know” my young mind said.
Yes – I was on the verge of paralysis – fear paralysis!
Thankfully this painful, stretching phase came and went. Today, some four decades later that fearful childhood season reminds me of the power that fear can have at any stage of our lives.
It may be as you read this post today, you know that your life is being held back because of a particular fear. Let me ask: Are there areas of your life where fear is holding you back from seizing new possibilities and opportunities? Are their fears robbing you of relational growth and deeper connectedness in your marriage, family, friendships or neighbourhood?
So often fear is irrational, yet it can still take hold of us. It can sneak up on us when we don’t expect it. It can stop us in our tracks. It can rob us of our potential. It can steal joy. It can squeeze the very life out of us! In essence, fear is an illusion inexistent in the physical world, but it exists in our minds and manifests in our actions. We therefore bring fear to life often without need.
In recent months I have chatted with people grappling with everyday fear issues – a fear of commitment, a fear of public speaking, a fear about leaving a dead-end job because of a greater fear of the unknown, a fear of not finding a life partner, a fear of separation and a fear of following in a family line of illness.
Yes, fear can be a powerful beast – but a beast that we all can conquer!
We sing a great song at church with the powerful, life-transforming line: “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” Behind that line is a great biblical truth and a doorway to life-transforming freedom and joy.
Overcoming deep-seated fears can be a painful, stretching process, but the reality is there is hope for all of us! We can all take practical steps today to live freely.
Here’s some things that we can all do.
- Face the truth – own your fears (don’t hide from them)
- Let others share in the journey with you
- See failure for what it is [It’s not failure that holds us back; it’s our fear of failure that can rob us of so much potential
- Be willing to seek help – friends, pastoral care, professional counselling
- Pray and ask the Spirit to help you take control of your mind on a daily basis
- Relax and unwind – catch your breath in a crowded, busy world
- Dare to take the next step to conquer your fear(s)
- Invest in things that matter; that help you focus on positive things in life
- Most of all – remember God is on your side!
Books, workshops and courses, professional support, friends, daily rituals, exercise and guarding our minds are just some of the many things we can do to protect ourselves from the squeeze of fear. But none of these things match the resources of heaven that are ours to discover as we live a life of freedom, purpose and joy!
Jesus came to pay the ultimate price, so we can overcome all things that rob us of living life the way God envisaged. Jesus came to open the door to freedom, hope, forgiveness, opportunity, faith, adventure and meaning.
Romans 8:15: You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.”
As one who knows what it is to be a slave to fear I am so thankful today that there is a new freedom song in my life. I am thankful that I am a child of God. I am thankful that I have a good, good Father who wants the very best for me. He wants me to share my fears with him and better still he empowers me by his Spirit to be free of fear on a daily basis. He wants me to experience the joy of live a free and full life!
Today what intentional steps may you need to once and for all conquer the beast of fear in your life? Your loving, gracious, powerful God is here – ready and wanting – to help you overcome.