Today, I went from thinking about trust to fear. Fear is something that, in some ways, needs to be talked about so that we recognize it for what it is and move past it before it enslaves us and controls our lives. Romans 8:15 is a verse I love to use in my writing because it speaks to so many situations. The New Living Translation of this verse reads, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’”
If that’s true, why are we so afraid all the time?
It’s interesting to me how much we grow to fear God. We use all sorts of names and adjectives to describe our Creator. Father. Love. Protector. That doesn’t sound like someone to be scared of to me. Not that we should take God’s sovereignty, power or deity for granted. But, so often we, especially those of us who grew up in the church, approach God like we’re contestants on a game show where He is the prize.
“And, now it’s time for Answer My Prayer the only game show that gives you direct access to the King of Kings! Answer correctly and live righteously and you can win the car, the washing machine AND the dream vacation! But, get three answers wrong and you will live the rest of your life in shame and total agony! Let’s meet today’s contestants!”
As funny as that sounds, I KNOW some of you understand what I mean. We’re so afraid of what we look like, what people think of us or what God sees us doing, that we miss out on the big picture. 1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” I know many Christians who, because of how tightly they hold on to fear, have not fully experienced His perfect love.
I grew up in a single parent home. My mother, who went home to be with God almost four years ago, was a strong Christian who raised my brother and me in the church. As much as those who loved me tried the right thing, they were human. In that humanness, they failed from time to time; we all do. We say the wrong things and do the wrong things and our choices lead to bad feelings in others. Somewhere during my teenage years, I started feeling really insecure. I wondered if I could hear from God because some people led me to believe that I couldn’t. I wondered if I could sing (which many people have always told me I can) because, if I sang at the wrong time (I pretty much sang non-stop), people would get exasperated and frustrated with me. I learned to be so careful of my word choices because I was terrified that people would find me unintelligent if I said the wrong thing. THEN, I panicked more because saying the right thing led some to believe I was ashamed of being black. My entire world was one giant balancing act measuring this action/consequence against that action/consequence to see which one would have less damaging results on my eternal future.
Sounds a bit paranoid, doesn’t it?
But, we live like that every day!!! When one of my best friends send me a text message saying, “God told me to give you this verse, John 16:24, ‘Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’” I love the way the New Living Translation reads, “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”
That should have made me excited. Instead, I was paralyzed with fear. What do I ask for? How do I get God to answer my prayer? Maybe, I should ask for something that will be good for Him. So, I sent my prayer request to God with a list of all the reasons it was a good idea. It was more like a meeting in a boardroom with me trying to get God to pick my idea over a host of other ideas from other people. So, I began to think of ways to hyper-spiritualize my life. Every move I made, I was over-analyzing trying to see if what I was doing made me more or less “desirable” to God. I tried to prove to God that I believed He could come through for me. If I didn’t see results, I chastised myself for not having enough faith. It was a year and a half of utter madness, heartbreak and frustration. Nothing I did was enough, I felt, and I was letting God down by not being enough.
There’s only one problem, and it’s a pretty big one…
God didn’t ask me to draw up a business plan and bring it to Him to see if it deserved a stamp of approval. He asked me what I wanted. There are desires we have that are so deep in our soul, the only way they got there is because God put them there. God is not in the business of taking candy from babies. He doesn’t want to take you to a toy store, ask you to pick something out, only to tell you, “NO”, as He points at you and laughs in your face. Our Heavenly Father has chosento be just that, our Father, our Daddy.
Every time I take my kids to the store, they ask for stuff. Sometimes, I say, “no”, but, and this is the reason they keep on asking, sometimes, I say, “yes”. They’re not afraid to ask for new toys. They don’t make me promises that I’ll get to play with it, too (unless it’s my son, Zachary, and the toy in question is Lord of the Rings based), they just ask. They ask because they know I’m their mommy, and (here is the important part), it brings me great pleasure in doing something nice for them. Just because I love them.
So, I ask you, what is it that you want to take to God that fear is keeping you from? What are the desires of your heart that you keep locked away because you don’t think you’re good enough for a present from God? You haven’t done it before. So, go on, ask. Sometimes, God will tell you that you have to do something, sometimes He says. “wait”, sometimes He says, “no”, and sometimes, He just says, “sure, why not.” Asking doesn’t hurt anything but the fear that kept you away in the first place. Let His perfect love drive out your fear, because, it didn’t come from Him anyway. Experience a love that says, “you are enough simply because I say you are”.
Let me know how it works out.