Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Do Something That Scares You

“Do not be afraid.”
“Fear not.”
“Have courage.”

Abraham needed that reminder. Joshua did, too. So did Paul, the Apostles, Jesus’s mother Mary, and dozens of other characters in the Bible.

So do we. A lot. At least I know I do.

Those phrases are repeated hundreds of times throughout Scripture -- the most repeated sentiment or phrase in the Bible -- and I don’t think that happened by accident. 

Whenever I've read those verses commanding us to exchange our fear for courage, I used to think God didn’t want us to ever be afraid. I thought God meant that ever experiencing fear was an insult to Him. My solution: Play it safe. Stay in the shallow end of the pool instead of stepping up to the diving board on the deep end.  

But what if we’re supposed to feel fear sometimes? Maybe God repeatedly tells us "don't be afraid" because we need to face something that scares us -- and then walk through it. 


If we’re honest with ourselves, fear is often the biggest barrier we face to experiencing growth. But fear can also be an indicator that we’re close to doing something that we’re called to do in the first place.

In one of Pastor Rick Warren's recent Daily Hope devotionals, he writes that "there is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss." Whenever we face a big decision that will cause some significant change and discomfort, fear pops up.

Fear is uncomfortable. Fear makes us pump the brakes and tempts us to make a U-turn instead of charing ahead. But the goal is not to avoid fear. Sometimes we need to be scared. We need to experience those moments when we know we're in over our heads. It's how we respond when we reach those moments that matters and can help us build our faith. 

The goal isn't to avoid fear, but to conquer it. When fear pops up and tells us we're not ready or qualified or equipped to face that thing, we invite God into our situation. We remind ourselves that God is bigger than our fears. We exchange that fear for faith.

We have to do something that makes us shake a little bit and doubt ourselves. 


Facing our fears gives God a chance to show up and speak into our lives. Fear drives me to Him and make me realize I need to lean more on Him for support, guidance, comfort, strength and reassurance. And when He walks us through it, there's no doubt about who gets the glory.

When you’re afraid, God reminds you that he is your shield and your reward (Genesis 15:1), because He will fight for you (Deuteronomy 3:22), because He is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9) and He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

Many of the heroes of the Christian faith felt fear. They had their doubts. They had their reservations about God’s plans. But they decided that their faith in the Lord was bigger than their fears. They made a decision that their fear would not prevent them from doing the thing they knew God wanted them to do, and they were rewarded for their obedience and faithfulness.

Doing something that scares us will put us in a position to depend on God in ways we never have before. And that's the best place to be. 


Starting over is scary. Opening up a business is scary. Becoming a parent is scary. Writing a book or publishing your work for the whole world to see and scrutinize is scary. Deciding to become a mentor or seeking out a mentor is scary.

But all of those things are exciting, too. And they are all important. The most important things, the things that matter the most, are usually the scariest things we will ever do.

The world needs more curious travelers, more creative innovators, more intentional parents, more fearless mentors and more people willing to share their voice and start a conversation on issues that matter.

So are you doing something that makes you a little nervous and a little afraid and makes you want to quit? Good! 

Fear can sometimes serve as a signal that you are close to doing something that might make a difference in this life and for eternity. 

But we have to be willing face those fear head-on.  


I was speaking with a couple of collegiate divers recently who told me that the biggest obstacle they face is fear.

For platform divers, the distance from the elevated platform to the water in the pool is 33 feet. A lot can go wrong in 33 feet. They know this perfectly well every single time they stand up there right before taking the plunge. How do they overcome it? They just have to do it. And then do it again and again.

And after a while, they're standing up there on the platform and remember that because they've executed the dive hundreds of times, they can do it one more time.

The great theologian John Wayne put it perfectly: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

The only way to get over the fear of something is to actually do the thing. You can't get over fears you never face. And every time we face a fear, the less afraid we'll be when we face them later. 

We can saddle up and take on any challenge, take advantage of every opportunity and face every fear because after God says, “Don’t be afraid,” He follows that up with “I am with you.”

When God says “Don’t be afraid,” how will we respond?

Getting scared isn’t a bad thing. It means you made a decision to get off your couch and do something. It’s how you handle that fear that will make all the difference. We have to get ourselves to the other side of fear by faith. 

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