E. Stanley Jones makes the point that Christians are people of the long view. By long view, he means that we plan not only how to live today, but tomorrow and for eternity. Our big enemy in long-view planning is fear. Fear immobilizes but it shouldn’t immobilize people who believe in their deepest hearts that Jesus reigns over all the earth.
When I think of times I’ve hung back and not pursued opportunities, I know the reason: fear. Once, a large city church asked me to come on staff. I wanted to. My mind was full of ideas for the position. What stopped me? I feared leaving the comfort of my denomination. I doubted my abilities even though I had years of ministry experience. I should have jumped in with both feet and figured out how to swim later but I wanted future plans laid out for me now. Fear paralyzed me and, to my regret, I turned down a good opportunity.
I got over being upset with myself about missing out on a good opportunity for service but I learned a lesson that has stuck with me: fear is costly.
Many times I’ve doubted my abilities as a writer, often with good reason, but too much focus on my inabilities makes me fearful. Fearful writers hide their work in a drawer for others to find when they die. That’s not good enough.
People who trust in God don’t operate in fear. Our mission of spreading the gospel depends on us putting our trust and faith in His abilities and not in our own inadequacies. We must live with confidence in God and believe that He has gifted us with both spiritual and natural gifts. Spiritual gifts help us serve Him and minister to others. Natural gifts help us make money to support our families. They bring pleasure to others, they beautify the earth, they provide leadership and keep earth’s machinery running.
Fear kills spiritual and natural gifts. It wrecks long-view plans. It makes us imagine non-existent enemies and causes paranoia. Fear stuffs useful people with useful ideas into small confining boxes where their usefulness is wasted. God hasn’t called Christians to box living. This fact is evident from the New Testament which is brimful of stories of ordinary people who got out of their small boxes and did extraordinary work for God.
Fear is costly, personally and to the Kingdom. Paul wrote these words to Timothy:
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7
Is fear paralyzing you? How would your life be different if you weren’t afraid? Take a deep faith breath, step out of your box and make plans not only for today, but tomorrow and for eternity.
Making it Personal:
Father, I know that fear is costly but I’m finding it difficult to trust in You as I should. Help me to step out of my comfort zone and use both my natural and spiritual gifts as you intended me to.