Fear & Freedom
Over the last several years God has given me a conviction to be transparent with people. Some people think I share too much. I’ve been accused of worse, but the way I see it, there are too many folks walking around this planet with masks on acting like everything is fine when inside they are hurting.
The enemy of this world likes our masks because they isolate us. They keep people at a distance because we fear what others might see behind our mask. Perhaps they might find fear or anger, maybe they’ll find weakness and shame; they might realize you don’t have it all together; perhaps they’ll find pride or arrogance, or they’ll discover the hurt or bitterness that you’ve kept locked in your heart for years or decades.
As a Christian, as a follower of a God whose very essence is truth, I find it is my responsibility to take the mask off. To let people see what a real walk with God in this broken world is all about. And I’ve discovered the most extraordinary thing about taking off your mask: once you remove yours, people feel safe to do the same, and you find that you aren’t alone. That’s when healing can begin. When love can replace the shame, the hurt, the fear, the bitterness, the fill-in-the-blank emotion deep within us that locks us away. It’s when community can be built – not only with others – but with the God of the universe. For without transparency there can be no trust because trust must be built on truth.
So, in the spirit of full transparency I want to confess that I’ve been struggling with fear. It’s a suffocating fear. A fear that grips me in my soul and won’t let go. Though the words may change, behind it is always the same question, “What if it turns out God isn’t real?” The thought terrifies me.
I can hear the gasps now, “What did she say?” “Isn’t this a site about learning how to have a real relationship with God?” Yes. It is. But questioning God’s existence is part of the journey, isn’t it? Struggling with the fear that maybe He isn’t real is part of struggle through the murkiness of this world. As humans, we want to see things before we believe them, but faith with sight is not faith at all (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have to have faith despite our fears.
Obviously, I wouldn’t have this site if I didn’t think God was real. In my heart I know that I know that I know that He’s real. And He is. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess that there is still that darkness that lurks around the corner. The darkness of fear that threatens me. The darkness of “What if?”
So, what do I do with the what ifs? I give them back to God. I confess it – this fear that He isn’t real. I know it’s not from Him (Romans 8:15). I know it’s from the enemy. This war isn’t against my flesh. It’s a war being fought in the heavenlies (Ephesians 6:12). It’s a war being fought for my very soul, and it’s a battle that has already been won (John 16:33).
I have a theory. (Well, I have lots of theories, but one in particular that goes along with the topic of fear.) I have a theory that if you fear something – that very thing – is the thing you should do. Now, I’m not talking about standing head-to-head with a grizzly bear and challenging him to a wrestling match or playing chicken in the middle of the road with an 18-wheeler. I’m talking about taking a risk. Looking back at my life, it’s when I risked doing the very things that I was afraid to do that I found the most freedom because fear binds. Overcoming fear frees!
To free ourselves from fear requires action. It requires experiencing the very thing we fear. Which, by definition, is a scary place because bad things could happen. But good things can happen too.
What I want is so much more than to know that God is real. I want to experience a real God. There is a difference in knowing and experiencing. I can read something and have knowledge, but until I experience it – until I risk putting my faith into what I’ve learned – I can’t really testify to it.
You see, I want to experience for myself who God is and that He is faithful. That He speaks through His Spirit and that He is good at His word. I’ve trusted Him with my eternity, and I want to testify that He’s not just a God of me when I die, but that He’s a God of me as I live this journey called life. I want to know that there is more to God that what’s after this life.
I want to know that I can experience Him like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Have conversations with Him & see His glory like Moses.
Know His heart and see His promises fulfilled like David.
Hear His voice in my soul and see His deliverance like Daniel.
Walk with Him and experience His love for me like John.
And testify to his mighty works and His ability to redeem and transform me like Paul.
And eventually – yes, eventually – look in the mirror and slowing start to see Jesus’ image and not my own.
So, I’ll continue to believe in God despite my fear, because if I don’t, I will never know what it is like to truly know Him and experience Him. I’ll never know that He keeps His promises if I don’t believe in them. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.
So, what are you afraid of? Maybe it is time to take a risk. Go ahead. Do it.
Take the mask off.
Bid on the job that you are afraid you might not get.
Move somewhere God is leading you.
Talk to a someone you’ve never met.
Apologize to the person you think could never forgive you.
Tell that person you love them.
Trust that God is real and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
The only thing you have to lose is fear but what you can gain is freedom!
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8