Finding Life When Fear Becomes Your Tether

Hi, my name is Kaitlyn, and I want to travel.  I woke up this morning with a little bit of a travel bug. Not just the normal gnawing feeling that there is a whole world around me that Ive never experienced, but something more. I want to see people hear about Jesus for the first time. I want to experience whole cultures knowing and loving the Gospel, and honestly, I want to be a part of some beautiful, whole transformation of the world that will last longer than my influence on it.

On a day to day basis, my thoughts are somewhere between, "I want to live in Europe for a year," and "Maybe I should consider a short term mission trip to Africa this summer?" These longings are only a little worse than theyve been since about this time last year. There's something about the start of a new semester that makes me want to travel the globe and experience new things that are way beyond what Ive defined as my comfort zone.  

Pinterest and biographies are my guilty pleasure when I'm in one of these moods. Something about seeing the most beautiful and human representations of a place make my heart happy, but there's just one problem. I absolutely, positively hate all forms of transportation. You name it, trains, planes, and boats. Nope. Not a fan of any. It's becoming a little bit of a problem these days. I'm not saying I won't fly at all, but an eight-hour red-eye to London seems a little daunting.

What is it about fear that is so captivating?

By fear, I mean the most basic dictionary definition, an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Why does this inner sense of uneasiness keep us from pursuing faith and ultimately a life full of vibrant, passionate love for Jesus and the world?  And, more importantly, what does fear tell us about our relationship with God?

In my case, the desire to do mission work, whether I end up oversees or twenty minutes from my house, is inhibited by my deepest fear of being outside of my comfort zone, 30,000 feet in the air or hundreds of miles away from land. Im expected to depend on man-made machines to carry me to another land, and I am doubtful that they can deliver on their promise.  Here is one fundamental problem with fear. When our trust is misplaced, placed on things and people and ourselves instead of God, then fear, or ultimately anxiety, will take root. We start to feel the full burden of our decisions and the inadequacy of our ability to protect ourselves, and it makes us feel uncomfortable and out of place.

This is where our deep seeded lack of trust in God is revealed. The same God who created us, who died for us, who loves us so deeply.  All through the Bible He pursues His people, protects them, and addresses their lack of faith. He makes it so clear that fear amounts to nothing other than refusing to acknowledge who He is and who we are in Him. Like Jesus says so sweetly in Matthew 6, God watches the movement of the birds. But, his care for us runs so much deeper. 

 

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

I love the reality check we find in this passage. All our fears, no matter how rational, accomplish nothing other than causing us to waste the precious life God has given us. The thing is, it's impossible to live a life of joy and freedom in Christ when you are living in the shadows of fear. Fear likes to whisper that "you aren't enough -- brave enough, strong enough, in control enough." Fear will hold you back from every single passion and calling God is leading you towards if you let it. You will choose to shrink back from relationships, community, sharing the Gospel with the whole world (in my case), and ultimately an untethered life.

The root of all these irrational anxieties that hold us back is more than just our desire to be self-sufficient and in-control. Its more than the realization that we have to make decisions and plans carefully because one misstep and our lives will spiral out of control. And, its more than just trusting in ourselves and letting fear guide us in the wrong direction.  The root of the problem of fear is that we are not captivated with Jesus. We dont see the world, or our lives, for that matter, as He sees them.  We dont look at the beauty and glory of the cross, see the sacrifice of Jesus, and confess that it would be a very small thing for Him to ask our whole heart and whole lives. Fear is a lack of devoted obedience.

I went to a missions conference this month. The missionary speaking was from the Philippines and his message was simple. If you are captivated by the glory of Christ, then nothing will be an obstacle for you. Not legitimate fears. Not impossible situations. If you are fully devoted to Jesus, then He will use you. Give your life the best shot. Give your life to the Lord. Pray: God, dont send my brother, send me.’”God is in the business of using faithful individuals who trust Him to their core and are held fast by the belief that Jesus is all.

Practically, this is what trust looks like. Its surrendering everything because you are captivated by Christ. It is resting fully in the notion that Gods calling is the best, highest, and most beautiful thing you could aspire to with this one life youve been given.  Being around Jesus, being with Him will always be enough to overcome our greatest inabilities and anxieties.

God has created us for freedom. Freedom to worship Him. Freedom to love Him. And, freedom to place every area of our lives in His hands. Freedom to go forward boldly and commit to that mission field or make a decision to follow Christ even at great cost to ourselves. Our lives are drenched in the ocean of His love and held by the very hands of the living God. Next time you are tempted to hold fast to fear, remember who you are. Jesus gave His very life, so you could have freedom to pursue Him, to pursue the life He has created you to live, to release you from sin, and fear, and death. Fear isolates. But, Jesus brings you in and says you are unconditionally loved. 

Live in the light of freedom and leave your fears, self-reliance and self-centeredness at the foot of the cross. You were made for more than to be held captive by something that Jesus has already given you victory over. So, go. Do great things and live the life that Jesus has created you to live. Because your passions to follow Jesus all across the world matter, they really do. They are of value to the King, and they give life to others. Don't settle for fear or be captivated by the empty glamour of self-made security and the flashy success that will fade away. Dont fall into the temptation of a tethered life, rooted in dull vanity and broken idols. Live with a vibrant passion and joyful hope that your work matters to the King.  Be enamored by Jesus, because it will never be too big a thing for God to ask us for our all.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18