When Moses died, Joshua (his trained successor) stepped into his role. Upon assuming his new position, the Lord talks to him to prepare him for the tasks that lay ahead of him. One of the first things that Joshua is told is not to be afraid. “Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9
If there is one piece of advice that occurs over and over again in scripture it is to not be fearful or afraid. The word fear or it’s derivative occurs 260 times in the Bible and in many cases it is an encouragement to not fear. The propensity to fear is one of the experiences we all share in common.
I still remember the fear that gripped my heart when I got a phone call from my urologist telling me that I had prostate cancer. As I ended the call, fear started to dominate my mind. By His grace, I very quickly went to a favorite verse of mine; Psalm 112:7 in the old Living Bible, “He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen, for he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.” I had my treatment and continue to be cancer free 20 years later.
That experience(and other similar experiences) has led me to conclude that I have fears/regrets about the past or live in fear of the future. As it relates to the past, I wish I hadn’t said this or done that and now I’m living in fear of what may result from past folly, sin or mistakes.
Or I borrow from the future playing the “what if” game in my mind. What if this happens? What if that happens? What will I do? How will I cope? Someone remarked, “what do you mean it doesn’t pay to worry. Most of the things I worry about never happen.”
For me, the temptation is to play the “what if” game, as I did when I was told I had cancer. What will I do if the cancer has spread to other parts of my body? What will I do if I get really sick and can’t function normally anymore? What if they tell me it is really advanced and I have 6 months to live? What if? What if? What if? It’s so easy to live in the past or borrow from the future and have no energy left to live in the present; in the moment.
A few years ago I came across Matthew 6:34 in The Message. Most people know Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In fact, Matthew 6:25-34 is, in my thinking, the best passage in the New Testament on not fearing, worrying or being anxious. But Verse 34 is often overlooked, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” The Message. This challenges me to live in the moment and continues to be a great help to me.
Through the years I have feared:
- Not being successful
- Not making it financially
- People’s opinion of me
While we’re on the subject of fear, what type of fear is currently gripping your heart and life as a leader? With the power of the Holy Spirit, don’t go to Jesus and tell him how big your problems are, but go to your problems and tell them how big your Jesus is. Amen?