Overcoming fear-induced paralysis, through faith, to step into your potential
When I feel afraid and insecure in myself, it is so easy to question everything God has asked of me, to question my ability for the task, to even to question God and repeatedly ask for proof. I have never asked God to prove himself by wetting a fleece while not wetting the ground around it, and then asking for the complete opposite, as Gideon did, but I have asked God for other things. I have asked for God to repeat His instructions in another way, so I could confirm I had heard correctly, or so I could back out when the confirmation didn’t come in the way I expected it to. Instead, I should have stood obediently in faith for what I believed God was saying. Of course, it is important to confirm God’s words rather than leap at every idea that comes to mind or do every verse that we randomly flick our Bible open on to. However, there also comes a point where obedience and risking failure is more important than asking God to confirm and repeat His instructions again and again.
After I completed school, I started praying about where God wanted me, and what I should do with my life. Over the summer I had been away on Christian camps and still not felt any direction. Once home, as I went through the leaflets and information I had collected, one stood out as a distinct possibility. So, I prayed, “God if this is the right one, open doors and make it happen, and if it’s not the right one, close the door.” It’s not a fleece prayer but I still expected God to prove the direction I was to take. He answered the prayer just as miraculously though. Within ten days of praying that prayer, I had spoken to the organisation offering the year out scheme, visited my potential placement church, stayed with a friend for a few days, had my placement accepted, moved to a new house and started work. Only God’s provision and timing could have allowed all that to have taken place in such a short space of time. It is not something I could have organised; I am disorganised and indecisive, even at the best of times! God had definitely opened the door, just as I had asked Him to.
There have been other times when I have heard God tell me something and been sure it was Him but then, like Gideon, been afraid of what the task meant and looked like, intimidated by its sheer size and insurmountable challenges. One such call was to study at Bible college, and while I loved the idea, I felt inadequate for the task, so I made excuses not to go. I simply walked away. (Over the years God has continued to invite me to Bible college – which is where I find myself now, following His call.)
Sometimes I look back over those decisions and wonder how my life would have turned out, how different it would have been had I stepped into the things God had planned for my life then, had I been brave enough to step up and say, “okay God, if you’re coming with me, then I’ll do as you ask.” I know my faith would have been tested but I also know I would have come out the other side a stronger Christian because of it. As much as anything though, I was refusing to accept the ‘mighty warrior’ potential God was declaring over my life, the potential He saw in me. Instead, I chose to continue to believe my insecurities were bigger than the potential laid out by the Creator of the universe, laid out by the God who sees the past, present and future, laid out by the God who knows my every thought and deed.
I am discovering that despite what I believe about myself, my Father still sees my potential. He still has an amazing plan for my life. He sees through my fear. He sacrificed His Son, so I could be free from sin, free from fear and free from insecurity. It can be hard to continually stand on that truth, that I am free. Hard to retrain my brain to believe His truth over the lies I’ve heard elsewhere, to accept the potential He sees rather than the insecurity I feel. It is a work in progress that He continues to perform.
Craig Groeshel writes, ‘As God reveals your fears, He will build your faith’ (Dangerous Prayers, p.43). My fear was an insecurity over the gifts and resources God had placed in my life, and my ability to use them. God is building my faith, He has already provided everything I need for the next part of the journey that He has set before me. I therefore need to continue to step out in faith on that journey.