I stayed in a troubled marriage for fifteen years because I was held in bondage by fear. I don’t think I even realized at the time that I was putting everything before God, only giving Him a small piece of my heart. I dreamed of a better life, allowing that dream to consume my thoughts. That dream became my idol, and it wasn’t until I laid down my fears before God and stepped out in faith that I began to enjoy the full richness of His love.
Why do you suppose I chose to live in my fear rather than give it to the Lord? Part of it was sheer ignorance of God’s unfailing love for me and His amazing grace and mercy. However, in large part, I stayed because I was afraid to leave all that I had known for fifteen years, even though it was not the ideal situation. I guess you could say I felt safe living with my familiar fear. It seems obvious to me now that anyone in their right mind would choose love over fear if it were simply a matter of choice?
I’m sure some of you are thinking: “If it were only that easy!” What if I told you it is that easy and that it is a matter of choice? You see, fear cannot flourish in a mind and heart full of God’s love? It’s true! God’s Word says in (1 John 4:18 NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I remember the good old days when our greatest fears were spiders, snakes, and public speaking. Those fears seemed so much easier to overcome. Back then, psychologists told us that our fears triggered a fight or flight response. Either way, whether we faced our fears or ran from them, we felt as though we had a get-away plan.
Today’s fears are much more challenging to identify, and we feel powerless in our ability to overcome them. Most of them cannot be seen, but they are so pervasive that they invade our thoughts and seep into our well-being. Consequently, today’s fears give us a constant feeling of being overshadowed by the gloom and doom of hopelessness. After all, how can we, as one person, control global warming, mass shootings, corrupt government, or a terminal illness?
Over time, we resign ourselves to living in fear. It is expected, somewhat reasonable, but to do so, we choose to claim our fears as truth. Perversely, people even credit their fears with positive attributes, like more mindfulness and a greater awareness of the world around them. Without realizing the dangers of doing so, we enable fear to snowball into a thief that robs us of the peace and joy God intended for our lives.
Those who become obsessed with their fears spend much of their lives studying anxiety, tracking results and outcomes just in case their fears bloom into an imagined reality. Over time, fear-focused people become void of most positive emotions when joy and love have no voice or presence in their lives. Why? Well, that which you feed—your fear—becomes stronger and more powerful. When you choose fear over love, you are made a slave to your fears. God shows us in Scripture that all is not lost. (Romans 8:15 NASB) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” So, you have a choice to make—live with your fears and make them your reality or give them to God and let Him fill your mind and heart with His love. Pray that God helps you walk beyond your fear into His loving arms and embrace the wonderful future that He has planned for you. Becoming fear-free may not happen overnight because God has some work to do with you. That work begins with a choice. What will it be—fear or love? Your life—your choice!