Do you have a word that you try not to use? For myself, it is the word ‘hate’. Since the word has a strong connotation with negativity and potential divisiveness, I try not to use it in my everyday language. I would instead substitute it for ‘dislike’ or ‘loathe’ (I’d have to feel quite intense to use this!). Yet in the few instances I use the word, I mean it with all sincerity to describe how much I utterly cannot stand what it is I am talking about. Let me describe what I mean…
I hate fear.
I hate fear because fear stops us from living a surrendered life of faith. Fear paralyzes us from making godly decisions. Fear is the enemy’s primary tool for holding us captive from unrealized potential and possibilities that only come from God.
How do you relinquish the force of fear and live a life of faith?
There’s a story in Matthew 14:22-36 where Jesus makes his disciples get in a fishing boat to go so He could spend time alone praying. It just so happened that strong winds had made the waves rough, and the disciples were alone in the boat 3-4 miles from the shore (John 6:19). In the middle of the night, Jesus walked on water to reach them. As soon as they saw him, they cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost! But Jesus said, “Take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
It was incredible enough to see Jesus walk on water, but what is even more astounding is what takes place next:
“And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
I’m not sure what motivated Peter to ask such a bold statement. Perhaps he thought it would be fun to try it out; who knows? What we do know is that Jesus said YES. He agreed to Peter’s outrageous request!
Peter does, in fact, go out into the sea and take steps on the water. Once he notices the winds, he immediately became afraid, and that was when he started to sink. Thankfully, Jesus was there to pick him up and catch him. Jesus then told Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Fear got the best of Peter since it was faith in Jesus that held him up. Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space; Peter’s eyes were distracted from Jesus, so he sank along with his faith.
We can point the finger at Peter and talk about how he failed. Yet, I’m afraid I entirely have to disagree with that assessment. Instead, I give the utmost applause for Peter. You know why?
At least he got out of the boat.
You might have forgotten at this point that there were other disciples with him. They didn’t do or say anything. Peter might have had a little faith, but the disciples had none. Jesus said, “come” to Peter, but there was no encouragement for the other disciples to walk out in their faith.
The truth is, we all have our ‘boat’ that we sit in. The boat is our comfort space. It’s what we know and what makes us feel safe. We like it and don’t want anyone to ‘rock the boat.’
I know the primary way to grow in our relationship with God is to get out of the boat. Stepping out is the place where we abandon our sense of security and place our trust solely in Jesus.
What is keeping you from stepping out of your boat?
- Is it to take action on a project that you’ve been mulling over for some time now?
- Is it to stand up for yourself and not give into the fear of rejection?
- Is it to say ‘yes’ completely to God and no more holding back?
Whatever it can be, it all starts with a single step.
Don’t wait for the fear to be gone – were not the winds still blowing and the waves crashing as Jesus told Peter to come? Jesus is calling you to take steps of faith in the midst of the fear. That is why Jesus said, “don’t be afraid.” In the middle of the storm – when the winds of distractions and doubt rage, you can walk if your eyes are fixed on Jesus.
“Perfect love cast out fear” (1 John 4:18). Jesus – the nature and model of unconditional love, will grant you victory over the fear as you walk towards Him. Faith in Him is greater than fear since Jesus is perfect love.
What steps is Jesus calling you to walk toward’s Him? I pray that you walk boldly in your present circumstances and as you make the decision to get out of the boat and trust Jesus fully.