As part of my transparency in this journey toward Indonesia, I admit times of fear. Terror. Dread. Reluctance.
Why? I'm a free-fall planner. That is, I work out details and alternatives in advance. But when push comes to shove, I go with the flow, changing my expectations and responses as life happens.
That doesn't mean I'm always happy with a change of plans. It doesn't mean I don't wonder if things will work out. And it doesn't mean I'm never afraid. (Adrenaline kicks in as the current takes my life-raft down the river. Off we go! The emotions and the possibility of disaster hit me afterwards.) Baring a few crashes, things have worked out pretty well so far.
Which of these common fears has crossed your mind?
- The unknown: what if life is completely different than expected? Can we adapt?
- Expectations: what if we're not good enough? If we don't meet the expectations of self or others?
- Being overwhelmed: what if we get stressed out and can't cope?
- Failure: what if we flop? Miss the mark? Miss the whole target? What happens then?
- Harm: what if we get hurt? Ill? Die?
- Abandonment: what if we're forgotten? "Out of sight, out of mind" became a cliche for a reason.
- Making the wrong decision: what if we take the wrong fork in the road? Can God redeem our mistakes?
Here's what I've learned from facing my own fears:
- God never changes, though people and circumstances may. "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6; also Psalm 90:2); and "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
- God knows what's coming, even when we don't. We may anticipate things that never happen, expending energy on useless worries. (Read Psalm 23 for assurance.)
- He is with us. Moses, Gideon, and other leaders experienced "God With Us." Jesus was that promise (Matthew 1:23).
- God is big enough to cover everything we can't control: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8).
- God has our backs when we fail or don't live up to expectations: Jesus continues to be our intercessor and Savior. "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus ... is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Romans 8:34); and "A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified" (Galatians 2:16).
- Though we are limited, God is limitless. Acknowledging God's infinite power and ability, assures us that we don't have to manage the world (or ourselves). Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know" (Job 42:1-2).
- We're going to be okay. Troubles certainly will come but God promises rescue. We might as well trust God and move ahead. "From the ends of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2). Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (John 14:1).
- God will bring people alongside, if we are willing to ask for - and accept - their advice and help. "Moses’ father-in-law said to him, 'This isn’t the right way to do this. It is too much work for you to do alone. You cannot do this job by yourself. It wears you out. And it makes the people tired too. Now, listen to me. Let me give you some advice. And I pray God will be with you.' ... So Moses did what Jethro told him" (Exodus 18:17-19, 24).
What fears are you facing? What (and who) will help you face today and the future?