Are you standing at the edge of something terrifying afraid to take that leap of faith? What should you do?
Do it anyway. Do it afraid!
How is that for a piece of bold and brash advice to start your Mindful Monday? Yes, we are going to go to those scary places today. Not the areas that have you trembling behind locked doors or shaking underneath the covers. But we are going to venture into those deep dark corners of your mind where fear, doubt, and anxiety torment you.
AFRAID OF MYSELF
Where you hear voices hissing:
You are not enough.
You are going to fail.
You are not worthy.
You are going to be exposed.
I have been on a year-long journey to conquer my fears by putting myself out there in ways I never conceived or imagined. And each time I did, it felt as if I was standing at the edge of a precipice only steps away from falling headlong into the abyss.
AFRAID OF EVERYTHING
Fear gripped and paralyzed me so many times. It mocked and taunted me mercilessly.
I was afraid of…
- going to a writers conference (where there would be REAL writers)
- trying to come with an idea for a book and commit to writing one
- talking to editors, publishers, and agents
- admitting my ignorance and lack of experience
- facing rejection and harsh critiques
- having nothing new or worthwhile to say
- meeting people with more talent and credentials
- being exposed as an imposter
- not hearing God’s voice
Although my fears centered around my new venture into the world of writing, they extended far beyond putting words on paper. The tentacles of anxiety and alarm began to creep menacingly into every other area of my life draining me of joy, purpose, love, and security.
Have you felt the agonizing grip of this kind of fear?
Maybe you are afraid of being alone, afraid of starting a new career or job, afraid of leaving home, afraid of loving after betrayal or loss, afraid of asking for help, or afraid of looking like a fool.
What do you do when you are afraid?
For a long time, I believed I had to conquer my fear before I could have victory. I thought that overcoming fear was my battle to fight alone.
But by reading stories of people battling fear in the Bible, God showed me something entirely new.
THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S
I have often written about battles here AT THE CROSSROADS. I guess you could say it is one of my themes. Why? Because the more I have lived I have learned the truth of this quote:
Recently, during my time of Bible study, I read about a significant battle where God showed up in a big way. I love finding stories like this because they remind me of who God is and how He fights for us…even when we are afraid.
The story takes place in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 (when is the last time you read this book of the Bible?).
King Jehoshaphat is leading Judah and gets word that the Moabites, Ammonites, and some other enemies are coming against Judah. He is afraid for his people because the army coming against them is vast and their chances of winning are slim.
But instead of consulting his generals or fortifying the city, King Jehoshaphat goes to God in prayer. He tells the people of Judah to fast and pray as well. He honestly confesses to God that he is fearful and needs His help. King Jehoshaphat openly admits that they will inevitably be defeated unless God intervenes. One of my favorite verses from his plea is in 2 Chronicles 20:12: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
God answers King Jehoshaphat and tells him that He will fight for them, no worries. However, Judah does need to go out and meet their adversaries on the battlefield. The Lord gives these instructions through Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:15-17):
Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
The next morning, Jehoshaphat tells everyone to keep the faith and arranges for some singers to praise God as they march out to battle. God follows through by sending an ambush for the enemy, and they all end up attacking and fighting each other instead.
What a story, right? It is one of my new favorites.
DON’T LET FEAR STOP YOU
I know that in the midst of battling my fears God intentionally led me to this story to teach me a valuable lesson:
When you are afraid to do it, do it afraid!
God could have delivered King Jehoshaphat and his people without sending them into battle, but He didn’t.
God could have taken care of the armies before they even marched toward Judah, but He didn’t.
Instead, He told them to go meet their enemies. To stand firm. To hold their positions. To watch the Lord fight on their behalf.
Do you think that they were afraid? Do you think they doubted if they really heard from God? Do you think they were prepared to die on the battlefield that day?
I think so.
But they went anyway. Not only did Judah’s army march out to face an insurmountable enemy, but they did so praising and singing. Did you catch that?
Frightened, timid, and uneasy, they not only followed God’s instructions, but they did so with joy!
DO IT AFRAID
I hope you take as much comfort and encouragement from this story as I do.
The only way we can conquer our enemies of doubt, self-loathing, unworthiness, and failure is by stepping out to meet them in battle.
Yes, the battle is the Lord’s, but He does not tell us to sit on the sidelines. To prove our faith is bigger than our fear, we must act in obedience.
Since I always need help remembering the lessons I have learned, I usually come up with some way of keeping it simple. Here is my acrostic for AFRAID:
A- Ask God for help first through prayer.
F- Face your enemy directly on the battlefield.
R- Recognize that the battle is the Lord’s.
A- Act by following God’s instructions.
I – Incorporate praise and thanksgiving as part of your battle plan.
D – Defend your ground by standing firm and waiting for God’s deliverance.
So my best advice for those of you who are afraid on this Mindful Monday? Do it afraid! For all of those times I was scared to walk into unknown territory and face my enemies, God was with me. He never left my side and delivered me from all my fears. I know He will do the same for you if you trust Him when you are afraid.
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