I stared at my newly bought car, and my pulse started to quicken. As I opened the door and got behind the wheel, I could feel sweat forming on my brow. I hadn’t driven in over ten years, and I was facing a two-hour trip on winding country roads. I was terrified. How could I defeat this fear that was gaining control of me?
There was only one way forward: I had to attack my anxiety head-on. The longer I waited, the more difficult it would be. I held my breath as I forced myself to turn the ignition.
Fear is our God-given natural response to danger. And not without reason – without it, there would be no limit to our risky behavior. I was right to be apprehensive about driving after such a long break. My hand-foot-clutch coordination needed to get back into gear (no pun intended).
But God never intended for fear to paralyze us, as it tends to do. No wonder that in the Bible, he repeated a whopping 365 times the command not to be afraid. The Lord knew how we needed to hear these words over and over again.
How can we do this? While doing an internet search of verses on fear, a pattern jumped out at me. In every case, the reason given for not being afraid is linked to God himself: his presence, his protection, his love, his salvation, and so on. It became clear that the Lord’s command not to fear isn’t a reprimand of our emotions but is rather an invitation to trust him. He calls us to listen to him instead of what frightens us. He gives us reasons why we can trust him. We defeat fear when we replace it with faith.
The emotions never completely go away, of course, but they can recede to the background. Every time we choose to trust God and take a step of faith, we drive a nail in the coffin reserved for fear. We’ll have victories and defeats, but God’s help is always close if we trust him.
As I headed out the door to go on that car trip, I grabbed a bunch of sermons to listen to on the way. I hadn’t glanced at the titles. As I sat behind the wheel and proceeded to look them over, I had to smile. Every single one was on the topic of fear. God was trying to get my attention, don’t you think? As I took that first timid step of faith, God’s presence and strength were with me the whole way.