Does fear stop you being a part of what God is doing? Sometimes, when we are scared to respond or even listen to God we miss the opportunity that God has given us to do his work; you see, God has a plan for everyone and he works in and through people all the time to help fulfil his plans. God may want to use us to impact someone’s life but if we are too scared to listen to him, we will miss that opportunity and God will uses another means to fulfil his purpose.
Early in Jesus' earthly ministry he approached a group of fishermen and the response of these two men to the call of Jesus is instructive for us as we think about personal fear. ‘While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.'' (Mark 1:16-18) Could you imagine how their lives would be different if they were paralyzed by fear and didn’t respond in obedience to Jesus at that moment?
I want to share about two different kinds of fear that has stopped me from doing what God tells me. The first one is Fear of the consequences. When I was younger, my parents who I love very much, thought the best form of punishment for a child was physical punishment and while it may have been effective at getting us to do what they wanted I know that their approach caused fear in my life. I was afraid of my Dad and afraid that if I did something wrong I would get punished. Throughout the years my Dad has changed into someone that I can speak with freely about things but in my teenage years even though my dad had changed, I couldn't get beyond the fear I knew of past experiences.
When I became a Christian at about age 20, I attended church and gospel communities and church events, but all my parents knew was that I was going to see a friends. I was afraid to tell them the truth. So even though my fear didn’t stop me from being a Christian, what it did stop was the chance for me to share what God was doing in my life with my family. My fear of punishment resulted in me not being willing to share what was happening in me and about God, with my parents, and this ‘secretive’ approach to my life caused me to feel like I was doing something wrong, which then lead me to decrease my Bible reading and prayer. And my relationship with God suffered.
The second kind of fear I want to explore is the Fear of the Unknown. A little while ago I was at a Christian camp and we were doing a session of prayer; we were encouraged to listen to what God was telling us and as I listened, I saw a clear image and heard God say to me that I needed to go to the front and tell the others what I saw. I started to say to God ‘no I’m not going to do that’ and my mind was thinking of all these things that could happen. ‘What if I go to the front and say that and everyone just thinks I’m weird’ or ‘What if what I saw was wrong and it isn’t relevant for anyone’ or ‘I’m going to look stupid’.
Eventually after about 10 minutes of me wrestling with God, I went up and shared what I saw and the person running the session asked people in the room if they felt like that image was for them. A man put this hand up so we prayed for him and he got to hear Gods awesome encouraging words spoken into his life. As we finished praying for this man, he said to me “that was good timing, because I was just about to leave here and head back to my room.” See, if I had disobeyed God for any longer, I would have missed that opportunity to do Gods work.
Let’s model Peter and Andrew and when God says “come follow me”; let’s immediately get up and follow; when obedience to God takes the place of fear that is when we will see the world changed.