For the past couple of years, I’ve had a fear of fish. It all comes from an experience when I came face to face with a catfish underwater. Ever since, I’ve been afraid to go into lakes, especially when I can’t see the bottom.
While vacationing at a lake, my sister begged me to go swimming with her, and since it was extremely hot, I agreed. We stayed in the water for a while, but I never went in past my waist. To go deeper meant I couldn’t see the bottom or any potential fish. Finally my sister, Erin, got fed up with me staying so close to shore and said, “Kristen, look around and ask yourself ‘Do I trust God?’ and if the answer is ‘yes,’ then jump into the water!” So, not wanting her to think I didn’t trust God, I prepared to make the jump.
Erin stood a of couple feet in front of me with her hands outstretched to pull me up if I panicked, and I lunged forward. Just as my shoulders hit the water, I looked down into the black water and grew afraid. I quickly used my feet to spring up and get out of the water. In the process, I almost injured myself and I pushed Erin under water (I didn’t trust Erin enough to reach for her hands). As I ran towards the dock, Erin stared at me in disbelief. I had come so close, yet I was still so far.
As I sit here now and think back on my experience, I can truly relate it to many other experiences in my spiritual life. How many times does God bring us to a place in our lives where the water looks black and scary, and we are afraid to jump in even though God wants us to? How many times does God stand with His hands stretched out, ready to catch us if we stumble or fall, and instead of falling into His arms, we pull ourselves up?
Throughout the Bible, you will see that it is often fear that stopped people from accomplishing what God wanted them to accomplish. Fear. Not lack of resources, not lack of status, not even the attitude of ‘I don’t want to.’ Fear. Just imagine what we would do if we didn’t fear so much. We’d witness more, we’d reach out in love more, we’d stand up for what is right, and we’d be more active in our faith because isn’t it fear that stops us from doing these things? I’m afraid of what people will think of me, I’m afraid to fail, I’m afraid of turning people away from Jesus, I’m afraid of being rejected. The truth is, fear often stops us from doing what God wants us to do.
Now while it is quite normal to have the feeling of fear when facing rejection or the unknown, what’s important is what we do with that feeling. God can’t work through us when we let our fears stop Him from doing what He wants to do. Look at situations in the Bible. Most of the people who accomplished something did have fears, but what’s important is that their faith outweighed their fear and didn’t hold them back from accomplishing what God had set out before them.
Peter was afraid to get out of the boat, but he had more faith than fear and was able to walk on water. Jacob was afraid to meet Esau, but he had more faith than fear and was able to reunite with his brother. Nehemiah was afraid to approach the king, but he had more faith than fear and was allowed to rebuild Jerusalem. Ester was also afraid to approach the king, but she had more faith than fear, and the Jewish people were saved.
On the other hand, the Israelites saw the powerful people living in the Promised Land and their fear outweighed their trust in God. As a result, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Jonah was afraid to preach to the people in Nineveh and had more fear than faith. He spent some time in a whale’s stomach as a result. I guess what it all comes down to is not do you have fear, but does your fear outweigh your faith in God’s goodness and provision? God will move through your fears if you have the faith to allow Him to.
It was once said, “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.” Remembering that, do yourself a favor. The next time you face a situation or circumstance and find that your fear is outweighing your faith, stop and pray. Pray that God gives you the strength to overcome your fears and accomplish what He wants from you. God wants us to place our fears in His hands. He will never bring us to a situation or a place in our lives where He won’t give us the strength to get through it. Joshua 1:9 says, “I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
By the way, later on during my vacation I paddled my rubber dingy out into the middle of the lake and made a leap of faith from the boat into the dark water. And guess what? I didn’t encounter any fish, and I had a lot of fun. The only thing I regret now is the time I spent in fear on the shore.[Kristen McNulty is 20 years old and resides in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, where she hosts the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.]
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