Monday, September 23, 2019

Do Not Fear

     "To save yourself some hurt, you hurt yourself? What kind of way is that to live?"
     She shrugged one shoulder. "A safe way?"
     He released a gusty laugh. "Is this what you call safe? It's not a safe way, Sparrow, it's a pathetic and lonely way. Sparrow, sometimes life is scary. Get over it, and live."
From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately, because of this and a few other things. Because fear tends to be such a constant part of life. And something that can so easily hold us back from what God wants us to do.

I can't say much about the context of this quote because of major spoilers, but let this suffice: Sparrow has been running from what she's supposed to do because of fear. Fear of all the possible ways it could be or could go wrong. Some of those fears are legitimate, but in giving in to her fear, she's not trusting that God is stronger than those things.

~

It's so easy to give in to fear. So easy to do nothing because the path ahead of us is scary and unknown and we might fail. News flash: you're going to fail sometimes. But it's better to try and fail than to sit at home doing nothing out of fear. 

I received my first rejection letter a few weeks ago. It's disappointing. It's painful. It's hard not to give in to despair and "I'm a terrible writer" and just give up. But isn't it better that I tried? I'm not going to give up. Yes, it was terrifying going to Realm Makers and pitching my book to professionals. So many times I wanted to back out and just sit at home doing nothing. But I'm so glad I went. So glad I pitched my book, even though so far all that's come out of it is a rejection letter. Because I didn't give in to fear. I learned so much prepping for the conference, in the sessions at the conference, I met so many people, I got to spend time with friends I might never have gotten to meet otherwise. I don't know what God's going to use this experience for down the road, but even with a rejection letter, I'm so glad I didn't let the fear win.

I have to be perfectly honest and say that when I got that rejection letter, I wanted to give up. I was very much tempted to let that failure define me, stop me, end my journey. But I'm not going to do that.

You can learn from failure. I learned things from my pitch appointments. I'm even learning things from the rejection letter as I reflect on the book. It's all in your perspective. In believing like Thomas Edison that we have only found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. As Christy Wright says in Business Boutique, "Failure isn't fun but, believe it or not, it's actually a good thing. That's because failure is a sign you're out there, you're trying, and unlike so many people, you're actually doing something."


God knows that we're far from perfect. He knows that as hard as we try, we're still going to make mistakes. And He is sovereign over it all.

And know what? Sometimes we don't fail. I'd submitted Creighton Hill to Readers' Favorite for a review, and about a week after I got my rejection letter, I got an email that my review was ready. I couldn't remember my login, so I couldn't check it on my phone at work, and, still struggling with the emotions from the rejection, I was terrified to read the review. I was literally writing a bad review of Creighton Hill in my head as I waited for my computer to boot up after work, preparing myself for what I was about to read. And I got a five star review! Which puts my book in visible places on their website, gives me a medallion to put on the cover, and gives me a positive editorial review to use any way I want. And if I'd given in to my fear and not read the review (I really didn't want to read it), I wouldn't even know.

~

So let's think about it. How much do you really learn from giving in to fear?

Maybe that you don't think God is powerful enough to use both your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and failures for His glory?

Because that's really what you're doing when you give in to fear. You're saying, "Yes, God, I know that You created the entire universe by speaking it into existence, but I don't really trust that You are powerful enough to take care of all the things about this situation that are scaring me. I don't really trust that You are in control and will use it for Your glory no matter the outcome." And frankly, that kind of attitude is wrong.

I'm not saying I've never had that kind of attitude. God has taught me a lot about trust these last few years as I mentioned in this post. But that fear, that lack of trust is wrong. It's cowardly. And it means that you're letting the devil hold you back. 

Yeah, you might be scared. That's life. Do it anyway. If you wait until you feel completely ready and totally fearless, you'll never do anything. Bravery isn't not being scared. It's doing it anyway.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Who wants us to be too scared to step out of the boat and do the things God set before us? I'd say it's pretty obvious that it's the devil who wants us to do that. So long as we sit scared, thinking about things instead of doing them, we're not furthering God's kingdom. We're letting the devil win. And we can't do that.

~

Furthermore, the Bible says over and over again not to fear. Yes, fear is a normal part of being human. But it's also part of our sin nature. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." And explanation of terms from the Catechism for Young Children: "What is meant by want of conformity? Not doing what God requires. What is meant by transgression? Doing what God forbids." God tells us not to fear. If we give in to that fear, let it overcome and control us instead of trusting in Him as He tells us repeatedly to do, then in my book, we're not doing what God requires and instead doing what God forbids. Now, like any sin and temptation, we can't overcome it without the power of God, but that's a discussion for another day.

God can overcome our fear. We can trust that He has it all taken care of. We can step out of the boat, do the scary thing, and leave the results to God. Because He has a plan for it. Everything that happens will be part of God's plan. We're as safe in battle as we are in bed. So do not fear.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." —Isaiah 41:10

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." —Psalm 56:3
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." —Isaiah 43:1-3a

~

So yes, life is scary sometimes. Giving in to that fear and hiding from what God wants you to do might feel safe, but it's pathetic and lonely. Life is scary. Get over it and live.

And if you haven't read Blood of Kings yet, I don't know what you're doing with your life.

1 comment:

  1. This is all so true! Fear of the future is always way worse than the actual events when you just go do them. And often I find myself wondering what I was worrying about in the first place once I am past whatever I was worrying about.

    Looking back over the last 25 years, I can see where every decision we made, whether good or bad, was used by God to direct us to where He wanted us to be for us to do what He had for us to do. And there is not a chance I could have predicted the things that have happened since we got married. I'm just glad your dad and I have been a team through all of this crazy stuff. If I had known some of the hard and crazy things we were going to be involved in over the years, I'd have been terrified. Even two rounds of grad school when you and your sisters were small. God's grace was definitely sufficient. It was easier to get through than we thought it would be, and it was such an incredibly small part of your childhood...but since it was what God needed your dad to do to get to what he is doing today (another thing neither of us could have ever predicted) He made it possible to get through it without your dad missing our evening routines (dinner, playtime outside, walks, Bible and bedtime story) and you have told me often that you don't have memories of anything negative. I am so thankful that God makes sure we can get through what we need to.

    And one last thing...thank you for the scriptures at the end of the post. They were just what I needed this week. **If any of this sounds incoherent, I'm still on pain meds, so hopefully it all makes sense. But...they told me not to make any major decisions until I'm off the meds, so....**

    Your Favorite Mom :)

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