What dreadful scenario has fear lobbed like a hot hand grenade into your heart lately:
You will fail;
This will end badly;
You are alone;
God will not come through;
You will mess this up?
When I feel afraid I try to tell myself something I have learned the hard way: my fear is not God’s voice.
Because whenever I have caved into fear, allowing it to tell me what to do or not to do, I have not realized later–wiping my brow with a grateful “whew!”–that God had used those anxieties to warn me. The opposite has nearly always happened; by listening to fear I have walked paths of missed opportunity and disobedience. But when I have ignored fear and pushed ahead I have entered adventures, relationships, and experiences of great joy.
So I must remember, and I hope you can too, that fear is not God’s voice. My spirit may gasp as the bombs of terrifying “What ifs?” explode, my palms may sweat, and my heart may pound, but my anxiety is not God’s way of cautioning me to turn back.
When Elijah ran from Jezebel and hid in a cave in the wilderness, God spoke to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah told him that Jezebel’s armies had used swords to hack to death all of God’s prophets and that they were trying to kill him too. I can guess at the terrible scenarios of tortured death exploding in Elijah’s imagination as he cowered in that cave.
The Lord told Elijah to stand and watch. A terrible wind arose and tore the mountains, breaking rocks in pieces, “but the LORD was not in the wind.” Then came an earthquake, “but the LORD was not in the earthquake.” Then fire, “but the LORD was not in the fire.” Finally came “the sound of a low whisper”(or a thin silence), and through that quiet voice Elijah received his instructions from the LORD, (from 1 Kings 19).
I take from this that the earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires that tear through my fearful heart are not the voice of my God. He make speak with sternness or tenderness, he may warn, convict, or command me. But he does not make me afraid to keep me from moving forward. I must remember to distinguish his voice from my fear, and I pray you can too.
May we not allow fear to bully us into shrinking back from anything God has ahead. Rather, may we “Go out with joy and be led forth with peace,” because he promises, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 55:12, 41:10). Now that sounds like him!