Fear is a compelling emotion. And it can be an excuse. The market is volatile and so “fear” is called prudence when you protect your assets. 24 hour a day media has made us more aware of dangerous people who are preying on kids. So “fear” causes us to error toward hyper-vigilance; we keep our kids indoors playing video games in the living room instead of being outside enjoying nature and their childhood. “Fear” that we will be alone or not liked keeps us from speaking the “truth in love.” Shall I go on?
Fear makes challenges impossible. Fear misses opportunities. Fear plays it ultra safe; it is risk averse. Fear is a prison; it limits. Fear sees the world through dark glasses; it is faithless.
In the Gospel of Matthew the writer shares with us a story about a time when Jesus put his disciples in a boat and told them to start for the other side. He would join them later; he needed some alone time to pray. In the middle of the night a storm came up and started rocking the boat – literally! And in the midst of the storm they spotted something or someone walking across the water. “It’s a ghost!” is the only conclusion they can make sense of and fear is the outcome. But Jesus standing out on the waters of chaos says to them, “Take courage!” They are in a boat that is still floating; Jesus is standing on the water in the middle of the wind and waves. Now who was it that offered encouragement to whom?
Only the savior of the world can change our view of the circumstances. Only the savior of the world can challenge us to have courage in the middle of rough times. Only the savior of the world can stand in the midst of our chaos and be unaffected by it. Is it any wonder he is called the savior of the world?
Do you see now why his grace is all-sufficient? Do you know now that you can have courage even when everything is crashing down around you?
I was talking with someone recently about fear and courage. I have no empirical data to back this up, but I would estimate that it takes about 20 seconds for each of us to assess an opportunity and decide how to respond. Hear, process, and decide – 20 seconds.
I think next year will be a year of courage. As a leader my task is to be courageous. In the face of obstacles and the enemies plan of resistance, I need to be a courageous leader. It is a year for our team to be courageous – to think boldly, be Spirit-led and Spirit-filled people who will take a risk for God. And that means that we need to be a courageous community of faith. Seizing every opportunity to worship, learn, serve and witness to a world that is gripped by fear. In the 20 seconds it takes to hear, process and decide on an opportunity, God help us to do so with courage!
Maybe if we “take courage”, we will make a greater impact on the world! I know this much, if we let fear reign over us then the world will change – but not for the better.
So what is your primary, motivating emotion? Is it fear? Is it courage? No matter which one you would answer, I encourage you to share your story with one another.