How many times has fear kept you from doing something? All of a sudden those “What if” thoughts flood in, your tongue swells up, you get that acids taste in the back of your throat and then your body won’t move. Your mind says you want to, or you should, but your body doesn’t cooperate. It happens to all of us, especially when we’re called to do something by faith. You feel the nudge to tell someone God loves them or to share your faith, but nothing cooperates and they walk away. Something inside says to give them money, but by the time you convince yourself to grab your wallet, you look up and they’re gone. You hear about going on a mission trip, but you’re waiting to “hear from God” and the deadline passes. We like to say, “Faith over fear,” but the reality is that fear stops us from acting in faith pretty often.
I can’t help but think of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. I can imagine the fear she must have had, the thoughts that told her it was a silly idea or the what if doubts that could have kept her from touching Jesus. But in verse 28, she overcame those fears with another thought, “If i could just touch the hem of His garment, I’ll be healed.” Her need for healing became greater than her fear and propelled her to action, and now she’s forever enshrined in the Bible as a lesson of pushing past fear. She’s an example to each of us in turning fear into action and a reminder that we’re often one step away from receiving what God has for us. She pushed through a crowd and her fears, and we can too.
Hebrews 10:39 reminds us, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) Your identity in Christ is rooted in actionable faith, not paralytic fear. To beat that fear, you need to act quickly when the Holy Spirit prompts you to do something. Decide now so there won’t be a debate in your head later. Everything inside you may feel like it’s on fire, but press through and act on the prompting. Have a phrase ready like, “God loves you, “ say it and walk away. If they call out, stick around. You may end up blessing them more. Whatever it is that fear keeps you from, and whenever it starts to paralyze you, remind yourself that as a Christian, you are not held back by fear. We act on faith and experience God’s blessings and true, abundant life because of it.
Any time we are faced with the prospect of doing something that we’re afraid of, we typically resort to a coping mechanism that is designed to get you out of the situation. They don’t always appear in ways that you may think. Sometimes you feel like you have to go to the restroom, or feel thirsty and need a drink. Other people all of a sudden think of something else to do that feels like it’s more important at the moment. The typical route our brains take is to hesitate, then procrastinate and then to make an excuse as to why we can’t do it. Almost every time you make an excuse to avoid doing something, it’s linked to fear. While people may accept our excuses, God doesn’t. He has a rebuttal for each one.
Some time after Moses fled Egypt, he had made a new life for himself and tried to forget about his past. The only problem was God had made a promise to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and moses had been spared to do the job. When God appeared to him in the burning bush, Moses was intrigued. However, when God asked him to go back to Egypt, fear showed up. Moses began to make excuses as to why he couldn’t do what God was asking. In Exodus 4:10 he gave this excuse, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled” (NLT). I love God’s response to that in the next verse. He asked, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?”
God is not interested in our excuses. He’s interested in our obedience. It’s easy to look at Moses and think he shouldn’t have made all those excuses, but we’re not so different. What excuses have you been giving to God? Have you told Him you’re not ready? You don’t have the funds? No one else is interested? There’s a pandemic going on? All these are excuses from doing what God is calling you to do. He created you for this moment and is aware of the things you have brought up, but He is also the one who has prepared you, will fund you, bring people to you and make a way where there seems to be no way. Is He not able? Most of the time, He’s waiting on us to get over our fears, to quit making excuses and to step out in faith before He meets those needs. Faith isn’t about taking a calculated risk or knowing everything is going to work out. It’s about obedience even when you can’t see what’s going to happen. Let your faith be stronger than your fear long enough to take that next step instead of making an excuse.
Almost every time I get on stage for work or church, I get nervous. What if I mess up? What if I don’t say things just right? I begin to doubt and my palms start to get sweaty. What if I drop the microphone? I’ve learned to step outside the room by myself to give myself a pep talk. I answer those questions with positive statements about myself and my abilities. I do it until I’m either out of time or until I’m full of confidence. I then march into the room with my head held high, ready to take on the challenge. Confidence is what gives me the strength to push through the doubts and questions in order to trust what I’ve done hundreds of times.
Stepping out in faith feels very similar. No matter how many times we do it, those questions echo in our mind. What if God doesn’t show up this time? What if He leaves you out here by yourself? What if this fails? The best thing to do is to go to God’s Word for a pep talk. Look at His character since the beginning. See how He delivered ordinary people extraordinarily. The Word of God should give each of us confidence to overcome our doubts, to get our game face on and to push past fear. I’ve found that you just need enough confidence to push past the initial fear. After that, momentum and faith can carry you to the finish line.
Here are some Bible verses on God giving confidence.
1. You will not be subject to terror, for it will not terrify you. Nor will the disrespectful be able to push you aside, because God is your confidence in times of crisis, keeping your heart at rest in every situation.
Proverbs 3:25-26 TPT
2. Lord, never forget the promises you’ve made to me, for they are my hope and confidence.
Psalms 119:49 TPT
3. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”
Psalms 91:2 AMP
4. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
Jeremiah 17:7 NLT
5. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
Several years ago I was in charge of a fundraiser for a mission trip at our church. We had someone volunteer to make brisket for us, so we sold tickets ahead of the event. After we got the final number of tickets in, the man cooking the brisket gave me the shopping list including how much brisket. As I was buying the brisket, I believed we would sell more brisket than we had sold tickets for. When I got to the counter to order the briskets, I asked for an additional case. If you’re unfamiliar with that, it’s about 60 lbs of more meat that we would need to sell. Many people who bought tickets failed to show up for their meat though. We had a ton left over so I asked the pastor if we could sell after church. My wife looked at all the meat and said, “I hope God honors your faith because I don’t see how we can sell all of this.”
As Christians, we must daily choose whether we’re going to let fear hold us back or let faith guide us. There are so many decisions we have to make, some with long lasting effects. We can shrink back in fear of the unknown or we can step out in trust of what God will do. Hebrews 10:38 says that God is not happy with those who let fear hold them back. I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t make my Heavenly Father happy so I choose to live and walk by faith even though it isn’t easy. When you live by faith, you never know for certain if or when God will jump in to help. There are a lot of “God, where are you? Now would be a good time to show up” moments. But, as the psalmist said, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).”
I like how Hebrews 10:39 describes the life we’re to live. It says, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) You and I cannot be people who are held back by fear. We are people who advance by faith. Either we believe what we say or we don’t. Our actions will always be consistent with what we truly believe. I’ve chosen to move forward despite fear. Living by faith doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you chose not to let it hold you back from your God given purpose. Faith takes a deep breath and makes the decision to go forward in spite of the fear in your belly, and God honors that kind of faith.
By the way, all that brisket sold out in a matter of minutes after church and doubled what we had raised through ticket sales.