One of Satan’s greatest tools to keep you from living out God’s plan and purpose for your life is fear. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. It can look like worry — worry about your finances, your kids, losing your job, even the end of the world.
Fear can look like despair. We hear the voice in our head say things like, “You’re not good enough. You won’t get that promotion. They’ll never want to marry you.” Despair can cause you to throw in the towel.
Fear can also look like anxiety. The thought of going back to college, starting to date again or attending church for the first time can make you so anxious that you never leave the house. Another of fear’s disguises is paranoia. Much of our world lives paranoid that their spouse is cheating on them or that they’re going to get cancer. We’re paranoid that a coworker is gunning for our job or about what others think of us.
Fear can look like a lot of things, but its greatest damage to our life is its ability to alter our decision-making. Every decision you make based on fear will not be in accordance with God’s will. Fear will squash your vision. It will put an end to your strategy and cause you to never reach your goals. You will regret every fear-based decision you make in life.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
We have to choose whether we are going live a life of fear or a life of faith. What’s the difference between fear and faith? Fear paralyzes, but faith mobilizes.
Fear paralyzes us. It causes us to stop in our tracks. Satan plays the movie forward in our lives through fear — fear of our future, fear for our kids, fear for our finances, our spouse or our health. We lay in bed at night and think of all the what ifs.
The devil knows it will paralyze you and cause you to not move forward into what God has for you.
Dr. Gregory Berns of Emory University is a neuroscientist. He studies the human brain and how it reacts to certain situations.
In 2008, he was studying how the human mind reacts to fear. In an article for the New York Times, Dr. Berns said, “The most concrete thing that neuroscience tells us is that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off.”
Exploratory activity and risk-taking are two things that sound like faith. When your fear system is active, your faith system is turned off.
Following God can be risky business. Noah took a risk when he built an ark. Abraham took a risk when he left the land of his forefathers. Moses took a risk trying rescue his people from Egypt. Joshua took a risk when he marched around Jericho. Gideon took a risk leading 300 men against an army.
Following God means taking risks, and fear literally shuts down our brain’s ability to live by faith. Fear paralyzes us. It keeps us from dreaming big. It keeps us from trying new things. However, nowhere in Scripture do I see God telling his people to simply hunker down and try to survive. The first two letters of the word “Gospel” are “G-O.”
Fear paralyzes, but faith mobilizes. In the story of David and Goliath, the giant had been taunting the Israelite army day and night for 40 days. Paralyzed by fear, the king and his men didn’t know what they were going to do. That’s when David stepped in. Just a shepherd boy, David was filled with faith, and his faith mobilized him. It called him to action. He could not sit idly by while this giant defied the army of the living God. He was going to do something about it.
David went to king Saul and said, “I’ve killed the lion and the bear, and I’ll kill this pagan Philistine, too.” We all know the rest of the story. David bravely ran out to meet Goliath, and with a sling and a rock, he brought the giant down.
What giant is defying your God? Have you allowed fear to paralyze you? Is it keeping you from pursuing the dream or vision God has put in your heart? It’s a new year. 2015 is here. It’s time to activate your faith. It’s time to start believing that “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Remind yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Don’t allow fear to paralyze you. Let your faith mobilize you. Years later, it was that same shepherd boy, David, who wrote, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”
Adam Detamore is pastor of Realife Church in Greenfield. This column is written by local clergy members.