Facing Fear Head On

Yesterday my oldest daughter came face to face with one of her biggest fears: the fireman pole at the local playground. This contraption has caused great distress and fear in her life for the greater part of a month. Me being the overprotective parent havent helped matters either. Luckily, my wife has been encouraging both of us to be brave.

With Madison now in 1st grade, she is tackling things that once terrified her all in the name of being a big girl. Climbing the stairs confidently and placing two hands on the pole, she was going to laugh in the face of danger. Yet, as quickly as the confidence appeared, it disappeared. In an instant, the second she looked down, all her momentum vanished. Even though in reality she was only a few feet off the ground, to her it must have felt like miles. The view left her frozen. It wasnt until she looked at her parents on either side of the pole, cheering her on, that she mustered the courage to jump and slide.

In our efforts to have Christs heart formed in us, we all face situations similar to Madison and the firemans pole. Our eyes play tricks on us and we are left feeling intimidated and completely out of our comfort zone. In these moments, living out our One Word terrifies us. When we are in the heat of a situation it is often difficult to achieve any clarity of what should be done.

We are so quick to trust our own eyes without realizing how deceiving they can be. Intimidating obstacles and self-doubt cloud our judgment and distort our view. We get to the edge of taking that next step, but instead settle for what we know. Putting our word into action can be so frightening that many of us would be quick to give up and live in the midst of our status quo.

However, if we dont take those little steps of faith we can never get to our ultimate destination: a life defined by our intense trust in God. How do we take off our limited view blinders and gain a God perspective? This change doesnt happen overnight, but these few tips will help aid in the process:

  1. Take A Step Back and Reflect. All of us experience spiritual amnesia when it comes to remembering Gods faithfulness. We get so caught up in the here and now that we forget how many times God carried us through challenging times.  Journaling allows us to look back and see how Gods story is unfolding and what role weve played in it.
  2. Refresh Our Eyes. Many times we become our own worst enemy when it comes to taking a step of faith. We define our self-worth solely by our own standard. The moment we think God is asking us to move, we instantly dismiss it by saying, He cant be asking me to do this because.(fill in the blank). Everybodys excuse is different, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know what excuse we use to justify our standing still. As challenging as this might be, we must begin to define ourselves by who we are in Christ.
  3. Create A Mental Mosaic. We will never get the entire picture of what God wants us to do all at one time. If we did, there would be no need for faith. We must take time to understand the pieces of the puzzle that God has made clear. These little pieces often provide some insight to what direction God might be leading.
  4. Practice The Next Step. Focusing solely on the destination can be so overwhelming that we think the entire task is virtually impossible. What we dont realize is that God isnt asking or expecting us to jump from point A to Z in one quick action. All He wants us to do is take that next step. Yet, dont be fooled. This wont lead to a more comfortable life. God will always direct us to places that require greater faith.

Wed love to hear your response to the following question: One way to gain a deeper perspective on how God is shaping you is by taking that next step of faith. What does the next step of living out your One Word look like for you? What are you risking by taking this next step? What is at stake by staying where you are?

  • Rick Olsen

    Mental mosaic is good. We’ll never have enough information or feel together enough to act without needing faith.

  • Tony,
    This post was particularly good – at least for me. Or to me, maybe. In other words, it really spoke to me. Fear (and it’s companions, Doubt and Diffidence) is something with which I’ve always struggled. Your implicit challenge to begin journaling is something I needed to hear, right now: I need regular reminders of God’s faithfulness to help me through the empty, fear-filled times.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Diane

    Spiritual amnesia is definitely something I experience from time to time. It seems especially prominent when I’m going through a tough time, or extreme sadness & hurt. Reflecting on all the times God has spoken to my heart, given me peace and His love, is what pulls me through in the end. That is the foundation of my faith for me, the personal experiences, that is where the trust grows & the deeper union occurs.
    thanks for posting this, it really resonates with me.

  • Angie Pleasant

    Thanks for posing the hard questions that need to be asked. When I went to answer your questions, I found that my answers were one in the same … My fear of failure is what stops me from taking the next step, but failure is also what is at stake by not taking the next step… My one word is “Finish”. I’m afraid I won’t “finish” what God has set on my heart to complete and yet if I don’t take the next steps, I won’t “finish” what he has called me to do…
    The Lord just brought this verse to my mind- For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
    Now my prayer is that He allows that truth to abide in my heart….

  • Brenda

    I think my next step is believing God will take me, but especially the rest of my family where He wants us to go. That I can’t teach everyone what to do. I can be here when they ask for help but I cannot make them. Also I must relax and believe that God is there for me and everything will be fine.

  • melanie

    Fear is my word of the year.. fear is positive and negative..it can prevent us from doing the small things in life from the huge things in life. it whispers in our ears in very small sentences in one word that will stop us from doing things. it can also be the one word that will cause us to step out and across the line of faith and bring on the courage that will last a lifetime in us. go through the bible and see how many times you find the word fear from the beginning to the end, and you will discover that lives are changed by fear and Satan himself is the father of all lies and God is the father of all truth that we can depend on ..never forget that!

  • Karen

    Oh, wow… Does this post ever touch my heart. Being in the midst of a huge storm in my life back in January, I chose strength as my word. I need God’s strength to see me through these difficult, uncontrollable time. In febraury, when I clearly heard God telling me to make a huge sacrifice, give up control and trust him with my children, my first thought was “No, You couldn’t be asking me to do that!” But, I stepped out in faith and practiced obedience. I had not felt such peace during these circumstances before. Then came time for court… (child support/custody/visitation) I think I truly believed that because I had been obedient, I would be rewarded. Instead, it was a disaster; and since then, things have become even more confusing, convoluted and out of control. The hearing has been in corrections, appeal, has been vacated and now we wait for a new hearing. How could it be that I was obedient, did what God told me to do, and things are worse? I face multiple fears about upcoming events. I fear also, hearing what God’s next step of obedience will be for me, and what the outcome will be.
    Because of these fears, I have had to remind myself daily – almost minute by minute – of God’s Plan for me. He tells us in Jer 29:11 that he has it all under control. He also tells us in Prov 3:5 that it is not our job to understand it. Most of all, He tells us hundreds of times in the Old and New Testaments, “FEAR NOT”.