I often ask myself if I could do more for the Kingdom if I were twice as courageous. This self-questioning usually exposes my reducing the possibilities in my life to accommodate my fears. When we insulate ourselves from what we’re afraid of, we don’t feel the emotions of fear and are therefore lulled into believing we’re free from it. We rationalise our greatest fears and call it practical wisdom. Fear often masquerades as pragmatism.
My first experience on a plane as a young boy was such a terrible one. I was air-sick and almost vomited my guts out from start to finish. It gave me an intense fear of flying till I was in my 20s. I refused to ever get on a plane again. Once, my father had to stay behind with me while my mother and brother holidayed in Australia with my extended family! I was deprived of these experiences but rationalised that Singapore was a nice place and I never needed to go anywhere else.
When I was saved as a teenager, I had a real heart for missions but kept putting it off due to my fear of flying. For years, I prepped myself mentally to get on a plane again and finally signed up for a mission trip. As the trip got closer, the fear and anxiety grew. I prayed but still boarded the plane with air-sickness pills in my carry-on and much trepidation in my heart.
Amazingly, I enjoyed the flight, the food, the views at take-off and landing – all without pills! In fact, I fell in love with flying and have become an aviation geek ever since.
Intertwined with my passion for flying is my love for the nations. I almost buried what God had put on my heart to accommodate my fear of flying. Fear wants to paralyse its victims and strategically prevent us from stepping into our promised land.
Here are a few things to note when fear comes creeping in:
1. Perfect love casts out fear
Fear takes root when we’re disconnected from the experiential knowledge of the love and goodness of God. Fear says, “Something bad is going to happen and you can’t trust God to take care of you.”
Yet, the nature of God is love, He is altogether good. When we call on Him, He answers and cares about what happens to us. The Lord keeps us from stumbling. When we’re weak, He is strong! As you connect with – and abide in – His love, fear loses its power.
2. Recount your prophetic promises
The Apostle Paul told Timothy to wage the good war by the prophecies over him. Fear often makes us feel smaller but prophetic words spoken over our lives remind us who we are in the eyes of God. Recall, declare, and prophesy what God says about your future.
3. The power of a sound mind
Think about how many times your worst fears never materialised. Though it felt so real, it turned out to be a non-issue. Fear is a liar – it wants to overwhelm our thoughts and emotions such that we lose perspective.
I recall moments when I was overwhelmed by fear and negativity and, all of a sudden, a truth about God, who I am or the circumstance I’m in, would enter my mind. It’s like the Holy Spirit turns a light on, and an ‘AHA!’ moment occurs. At once, the situation I’m in doesn’t seem as bad. By aligning my thinking with truth, negative thoughts and emotions lose their grip.
The Holy Spirit wants to give a new vantage point to see what’s true and possible. Often, all it takes to break fear off is sound thinking. We tend to think that someone we consider brave is immune to fear. That’s probably not the case, but he or she certainly does not allow fear to make decisions for their lives. We don’t have to reduce our expectations to the level of our fears.
I read a true story about a man plagued by a recurring nightmare in which a ferocious lion kept chasing him until he dropped exhausted and awoke in perspiration. The man was troubled by the possible meaning of the dream. Did he have some inherent fear in his life? Was he running from something? He sought his pastor for counsel. As he ministered, the pastor felt led by the Spirit to invite the man to recall the dream, with all its fears.
Hesitantly, the man agreed, and went into a prophetic experience. As in his dreams, a ferocious lion appeared, heading his way. The pastor instructed the man, “When the lion comes close to you, don’t run away. Instead, ask what it is, and what it is doing in your life.” Fidgetting uneasily in this vision, the man did as he was told and shared that “The lion is snorting and shaking its head, standing right there in front of me, its jaws wide open. I asked, ‘Who are you?’ The lion said, ‘I’m your courage and strength. Why are you running away from me?’ “
Possess your courage and face your fears. Go where the Spirit leads you – do what you’ve never done before. Let this be a year of exploits of faith and courage in the Holy Spirit! What would you attempt for God if you were twice as courageous?