“Were you afraid?” she asked. Of course I was. We were moving across the country after living in Waco for twenty years. We were leaving the known and entering the unknown. Yes, I know fear. Typically I become afraid of what could happen. After all, “What if?”
Meanwhile, early this morning I sat at a table in Starbucks. I was near the door. My cup of coffee was to my right. My computer was open. I was working on a document for a lunch meeting that I would have in a few hours. The morning was calm. People were coming and going, each leaving with a cup of coffee. I anticipated a full day with several meetings scheduled and some other work that I needed to take care of. The sun was shining and all was well. Fear was nowhere to be found.
However, there are times when I have awakened in the middle of the night only to be faced with my fears.
1. What if the situation I am working through goes bad? What will I do or say?
2. What about my children? What about their future? Will they be all right?
3. What if I die suddenly? What will Charlotte do? Will she be all right?
4. What about my work and ministry? What if I’m not as competent as I should be?
5. What about my health? What if I am suddenly stricken by disease?
My fear can cause me to hesitate. My fear can cause me to wait. My fear can cause me to spend precious time and energy wallowing in doubt and questioning myself.
So what do you do with fear?
1. Some of us deny that we experience fear. As a person told me once, “I’m not afraid of anything!” Really?
2. Some of us are paralyzed by our fear. Some people are so fearful they refuse to do anything that has any risk associated with it.
There is a third possibility. We can face our fear and push through by the power of God. As one writer said, “We can stare fear in the face.” We rely on the power and strength of God to move us through our fear.
In December 2013, we moved to Memphis after having lived in Waco, Texas for twenty years. We raised our children there. I worked with a fine congregation there. Waco was home. Then, we left.
We had an opportunity to work with Harding School of Theology. This would be a very different kind of ministry for me but nevertheless one with opportunities to impact numerous students and consequently numerous congregations.
Was I ever afraid? Of course. Yet, I found great comfort in texts such as Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Fear does not have to rule.