What’s Your Fear?
It’s familiar to everyone.
At times it’s our friend, warning us of danger. Sometimes it’s our enemy, limiting our potential. It can be debilitating — even paralyzing us, preventing action from being taken!
You will not find a way to escape it!
American essayist, philosopher, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us: “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
Even the powerful can be immobilized and dreams defeated if we succumb to fear!
Perhaps, Paul had this in mind when he is writing to young Timothy; a minister called by God, serving in difficult surroundings.
“For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” [Emphasis mine]
I was young when I entered the ministry. It wasn’t my calling I questioned, but my abilities (or lack of aptitude). My confidence could quickly dissipate when confronted by older, wiser, and seasoned Christians.
When unexpected problems presented themselves to me as a young minister, I felt as if I was being baptized in fear, rather than faith! There are moments when I still feel that way.
Some theologians surmise that Timothy’s struggle has something to do with those who question his authority as a minister, called by God. After all, he’s young and lacks experience.
It’s not clear as to what Timothy’s fear is. However, it is obvious Paul is compelled to remind him — and us — of how important it is to relinquish fear!
As a follower of Christ, we have a “spirit of confidence, not cowardice.” The word Paul uses as “cowardice” (in the Greek “δειλία”), conveys a meaning of fear. This type of anxiety can lead to timidity or faintheartedness — a failure of spirit caused by fear.
Fear is active and alive!
According to a “Survey on American Fears,” by Chapman University, here are the dominating concerns of many Americans in 2019:
• Corrupt Government Officials
• American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare
• Pollution of Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes
• Pollution of Drinking Water
• Not having enough money for the future
• High Medical Bills
• The US will be involved in another World War
• Global Warming and Climate Change
• North Korea using weapons
• Air Pollution
It appears there is an abundance of anxieties troubling Americans today beyond the common phobias of spiders, snakes, and fear of public speaking!
Even Church leaders are not immune to fear.
A non-scientific survey conducted by Thom S. Rainer revealed that pastors and church leaders are concerned with issues such as… Apathy and internal focus; staff issues; leading and keeping volunteers; generational challenges, and finances.
Pick your fear! If one or more of the concerns listed above doesn’t match your anxiety, I’m confident you can add to the list.
While our environment may be different than young Timothy’s surroundings, we have one thing in common: An on-going need to rekindle, re-connect, and receive.
One of my chores as a young boy was to make sure the fire in the fireplace that had gone out the night before, was “rekindled.” The ashes were warm, but it required slivers of new wood called “kindling” to be carefully placed on the heated coals. With a slow and steady blowing of air, I watched as the kindling would ignite.
That image reminds me that my fear can cause me to believe the fire has gone out — there’s no possible way. It also helps me remember that it’s my responsibility to re-kindle to re-ignite the dream.
1 John 4:18 reminds us:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
Since God is perfect love, God casts out our fear. When I become more consumed with fear than God, it is a sure sign I need to re-connect with God.
Even as I write this today, I’m relinquishing a deep-seated fear to God to re-connect with the source of my deliverance.
As I re-connect, I place myself in a position to receive from God. Paul assures Timothy — and us — that we receive a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
The power needed to relinquish fear is beyond me. I lack the love required to reflect God’s love to others if left to myself! The self-discipline necessary to live sensibly and sober-minded amid fear is God’s gift to me.
The question is: Am I willing to receive God’s gifts of power, love, and self-control?
What’s your fear? Does it keep you awake at night? Do you recognize how debilitating it is? Is your dream fading? Perhaps, it’s time to re-kindle, re-connect, and receive God’s gifts that frees us from fear!