CONTINUE WITHOUT FEAR
Jane M. Phinney | March 31, 2020
Two weeks ago, I wrote about my take on a BAD MOVIE recorded in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Little did I know that, just 2 weeks later, real life would find me under stay-at-home orders from the governor. It all feels somewhat strange & surreal. A cloud hangs over our daily reality as the news reports roll in. Our human reaction is possibly one of two things. Some folks are blowing the virus information off, viewing those who do not, as a tad bit “nuts.” On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who think there is a possibility that we might be facing a life-threatening issue & an altered future. What if __________ happens? (You fill-in the space)
The first group denies their possible fear factors. The second group attempts to admit their fears rationally & be prepared to the best of their abilities. I confess, I am a planner. I don’t like surprises that catch me off guard in precarious positions. You guessed it…I’m planning the best I can, to be aware & ready, with the few resources I have. However, I can say that I am not living in fear, because I know that God is in control of my life & the world overall. He is not surprised at what is happening around the globe. He sees it all in one panoramic sweep. He can be trusted.
So, what is a person to do in the middle of changes that defy the dates & plans on your calendar? I don’t mean to be overly simplistic but particularly for indwelt believers, keep doing what God tells you to do…to make a difference for eternity in whatever capacity you are able. All of that is done within the confines of honoring the authorities He has put in place to protect us. Like a child, we do not have to agree on everything or even understand it. We just need to comply-- assuming there is no violation of Biblical guidelines. (None presently, to my knowledge.)
The remaining verses in 2 Timothy 3, & other verses in chapter 4, hold some valuable encouragement for us. 1) Referencing the difficult times & his past persecutions and sufferings, Paul says to “continue in the things you have learned & become convinced of…having known the sacred writings that give wisdom… & lead to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2) God’s Word is what equips us to do what He wants us to do. The Bible is like an ongoing preparatory school, readying us to complete our calling. We are always in need of teaching, training, & correction…until we take our last breath. 3) Whatever it is that you are called to, be sober…endure hardship…do the work of sharing Christ…fulfill your ministry. This is true whatever your earthly occupation is. I have worn many hats in my lifetime. But whatever place I was at in my understanding of faith lived out, I always desired to show others the sacrificial love of God on their behalf. That’s our life purpose… period. Don’t you think?
A few years back, I was made aware that there were over 300 verses in the Bible that address fear. I just now did a quick count in my THREE-IN-ONE BIBLE REFERENCE COMPANION. All I can say is, “WOW, Lord!” Being afraid (overcome with fear) is addressed 184 times. Fear (as expressed in anxiety) is referenced in 232 verses. And not to be overlooked is healthy fear, an awe of God. There are 153 verses on this topic. All total, that’s about 570 passages, give or take a few errors in my tally efforts. Certainly, this is an important dynamic to God, as it should be to us. Why? I believe fear is our automatic flesh response to the unknown, to the surprises crises we face.
Fear can hinder us from doing what we are supposed to be doing, in the middle of unwelcomed, sudden insecurities. The enemy of our souls uses fear against us, lying to our minds so that we feel paralyzed & inept to accomplish anything useful or life changing. All he needs to do is change our thinking—to make us an ineffective tool in standing for the Truth. Our enemy cares naught about us personally. But if he can keep us an emotional mess, we standstill instead of moving forward.
THANK GOD that He has a purposeful use for our weaknesses. He often uses fears to keep us dependent & focused, to keep us from thinking we are something (proud) when we are nothing (humble), & to draw us to the security of His love. Or He even uses fear, in His kindness, to lead us to repentance from sin–turning around & running toward Him instead of running away. This is the focus we need to maintain if we are going to keep on accomplishing His purposes, according to His plan, & through His power working in us.
I hope & pray that whatever obstacles you are facing in life, you will remember what God has called you to do—share the full gospel of Jesus Christ—no matter your age or title. And I hope & pray that when you feel uncertain & overwhelmed, you will remember the One who is the stability of your times—a wealth of salvation, wisdom & knowledge because the fear of the Lord is your treasure. (Isaiah 33:6) I pray you will pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord (Lam 2:19b), because blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord & whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, & it will not be anxious in the year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7&8)
“So be it unto us, Lord. Amen!”