We are continuing our series in looking at practical ways we can be missional wherever the Lord has called us. Last week we talked about the importance of remembering our first love. There are so many counterfeit loves all around us vying for our affections. For us to be missional, we must not forget that our first and greatest love is God Himself. This week, we will look at another practical step in being missional: fighting our fear.
I personally believe fear and doubt are the two biggest hindrances to people being truly missional. Why? Because when we are living in our fears and doubts we usually end up always doing the safe, cautious thing because we are worried about what would happen if we lived a truly missional life. If I gave more than 10% would I have enough left for my future? If I moved overseas would I ever find a spouse? If I really turn the other cheek each time won’t people just walk all over me?
God has called us to live outside ourselves and trust Him to provide, but doing so can be a scary thing because it is outside our control. When things are outside our control, we tend to fear and often try to find the safest route within our control rather than trusting the Lord to provide.
Please note that I am not saying to live flippantly or haphazardly and then expect the Lord to bless. Spending all of your income on some hobby then expecting the Lord to provide for you financially is selfish and wicked. Instead, what I am saying is that when we are living outside of our comfort zone for God’s glory, (using more than we can afford to give to missions or Christian social work), then I truly believe God will provide for us.
But that leads to the second reason why fear and doubt keeps us from being missional. They keep us paralyzed, waiting for answers that might never come. When we are scared of the future or the unknown, we often wait for some kind of “sign” from the Lord to direct us to what is next. So instead of getting busy being missional right where God has us, we sit around and wait for God’s big sign to us about what to do next.
Instead of getting busy serving in your church, you are paralyzed by the fact that you are getting older and are still unmarried. Instead of using your time to serve the community, you are paralyzed about what to do 5 years down the road. Instead of going overseas to serve as a missionary, you are paralyzed because some great job opportunity may come along while you are gone.
While we all wish God would use the clouds to lay out our next steps, the truth is that doing so would be unhelpful to your ultimate goal: a closer walk with God. Hebrews tells us that faith is “the assurance of things HOPED for and the conviction of things NOT SEEN.” Having God spell out every step for you would actually be a hindrance to your faith. God wants us to rely on Him for each murky step forward we take.
Fears and doubts can cause us to play it safe and to be paralyzed waiting for answers. But they also keep us from being truly missional. So what can we do to fight our fears? I think the first thing is to realize you don’t need to face your fears head on. Our culture tells us that in order to conquer our fears we have to face them head on and show them we aren’t afraid. And this approach does work for a time until a new fear comes and then the cycle repeats endlessly. Sounds exhausting right?
Instead of trying to face our fears through our strength, why not stop trying to face your fears and trust in Him who is able to overcome any and all obstacles? Instead of us, in our weaknesses, trying to stand up to an army of fears, why don’t we go get our Heavenly Father who has already told us that He fights for us? The best way to fight your fears is to humbly trust in the Lord’s provision. Don’t worry about giving beyond your means, trust the Lord to provide. Don’t worry about marriage. Get busy serving Him and trust the Lord to provide. I have found that the Lord is truly faithful when we stop playing it safe and instead trust Him to provide for us. Trust Him with your fears and ask for the strength not to face your fears head on, but to humbly submit to Him and follow His lead.
Secondly, in order not to be paralyzed by our fears, I think we need to get busy. That doesn’t mean get busy playing video games or vegging out on Youtube. It means get busy serving Him. So many people are paralyzed about what is next when God has you right here and right now for a purpose. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 to focus on today because “tomorrow has enough worries for itself.” Get busy serving in whatever place God has you now and I truly believe God will start to reveal those next steps.
If you want to live a missional lifestyle, your fears and doubts will continue to try and get you to play it safe and keep your from moving forward on mission. Stop trying to do things in your own strength. Rely on His strength to provide for you. Go out of your comfort zone knowing Jesus came out of His to save us. Get busy serving instead of waiting for the whole path. Your faith will grow as you serve and depend on God for that next step. The battle with our fears and doubts is ever before us but the victory has already been won by Christ. Thus, may we all be missional today knowing we are no longer a slave to our fears.