Everyone is afraid of something—and not usually just one something, but a lot of somethings. The list of common phobias is extensive.
Reactions to fear
Fear can be paralyzing or motivating depending on how you handle it. Personally, I am afraid of spiders. I don’t care if they aren’t poisonous, there is something just inherently evil about something with that many legs creeping about my house. My common reaction to spiders is avoidance and delegation. In college, my friend Naomi was my designated spider killer (and I kept her quite busy). After college, my roommate and I had a deal. She killed the eight legged creatures and I disposed of the lesser legged intruders. It was a great partnership.
There is also a great deal of fear wrapped up in my writing. This manifests as procrastination. What if I say the wrong thing? What if someone disagrees with me? Will people expect me to have all of my life together and be disappointed when they find out I have a basketful of faults that I struggle with every day? If I let it, these fears will keep me from writing. They cause me to delay posts my heart is begging me to share and they turn every chapter that I write for publishing into a spiritual battleground.
My greatest and most personal fear is personal harm. I believe a lot of people share this fear or something like it and that it is paralyzing us in our efforts to reach the needy of this world with the power of Christ. However, I believe that my fear of being raped is part of what motivates me to fight on behalf of the thousands of women and children that face that reality every day in the multi-billion dollar sex industry. The Lord has given me an enormous burden and passion to help these souls, in part, because I am so afraid of becoming a victim myself.
When Jesus visited the Gadarenes in Mark chapter 5, he had just performed an amazing miracle. He had cast out a legion of demons from a man that had been so tormented by them that he was forever crying out and cutting himself. Any attempt to restrain him had failed. So the people of the town avoided him as he roamed the graveyard and mountains near the city. Jesus came along and had compassion on the man. He cast out the demons who then entered a herd of pigs causing them to run into the sea to their deaths.
You would expect the people to be angry at their loss of livestock and income at such a turn of events, but that isn’t what the Bible says happened. It says that when the witnesses to what happened told the other townspeople, they were afraid and begged Jesus to leave their region. I’ve always wondered at that. It would seem that if they weren’t angry at him for the loss of the pigs that they would be grateful that a legion of demons had been sent away from this neighbor of theirs, and by nature of his proximity to their families and homes, had been afflicting them as well. But instead of offering their thanks and praise, they ran Jesus out of town.
Results of letting fear rule
Recently have I started to see this story in a new light. I realized people are afraid of what they can’t control and what they don’t understand. Things like homelessness, human trafficking, divorcees, single moms, low income families. These problems don’t have easy answers. Dealing with people in difficult circumstances can be draining, costly and even dangerous. So instead of showing them the love of Jesus and letting loose the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as we minister to them, we turn away, avert our eyes, come up with excuses not to help, turn the channel on the news broadcast, or even blame them for being in such a mess. We do what the people of the Gadarenes did—we ask Jesus to leave us alone.
What are you afraid of?
So I wonder—what are you afraid of? What is it that you feel motivated by the Holy Spirit to do, but that you aren’t sure what might happen if you try? Is there something you’ve always wanted to attempt, but never felt like you were qualified or the time was right? Jesus wants to do amazing things through us to change our lives and those in our communities. We have to let Him work through our fear. We have to invite Him into the mess and let His Spirit cast out the inner demons keeping us trapped in complacency.
Face your fears with Jesus
Let Jesus bring life and healing into your fears. Can you imagine what other miracles the people of that town missed out on because they were afraid? Don’t be like them. Face your fears and let Jesus have His way with them.