No one wants to be afraid. Fear can be paralyzing. But it can also help to activate us toward courage and faith, if we identify it and bring it before the Lord. Often in Scripture we are commanded, Do not fear, or do not be afraid. God, angels, Jesus…they all said it. Unfortunately, we take the wrong lesson from their exhortation, and pretend we’re not afraid, and push “the thing” away from us, or avoid it, instead of dealing with it head on and asking God to help us.
Take public speaking – one of those things people say they are most afraid. I’ve read that fear of public speaking ranks right up there with fear of dying. But is it really fear of speaking, or is it the fear of failing, or fear of being incompetent, or having people disagree with us, or the fear of having people stare at us and not like something they see. So, the fear is really about sounding or looking “less than” in other people’s eyes. And that fear is related to the fact that (perhaps) I care too much about what others think of me. I want their approval, and I want people to think I’m competent, and decent looking enough that they aren’t sitting there thinking, “oh my god, what is this horrid thing in front of me making sounds“.
Fear can keep us from saying yes to Go, Do, Say, and Give whatever God wants of us, and experiencing real freedom. What He wants may seem impossible. But often, it’s very doable. It just may feel risky. And one of the risks is the risk of the disapproval of others. They might not understand or agree with us, or they might not like us if we ______.
Every little step of obedience can force us to face a fear. Try not to avoid it or push it away, or pretend its not there. Ask the next question for yourself: What is this fear really about? And ask God why that next thing beneath the fear is really so important and possibly scary to you.
We really only need to live for the approval of One. And that One will give us the courage to face our fears and follow Him. That is the real freedom in surrender to Jesus. When fear of others doesn’t inhibit us from living out the best version of ourselves.