It was almost a year ago today.
We’d just returned from a trip to Pittsburgh, (a city where no matter how many times I visit, I always seem to get lost). On this particular trip, our trusty GPS system broke. (It literally fell off the dashboard and crumbled into several pieces. I guess Pittsburgh was just too much for it.)
After days of getting lost, pulling over and asking perfect strangers for directions (not something I recommend) and spending hours driving in circles to find destinations that were only minutes away, we decided that it was time for a change. It was time to come into the 21st century and replace our old flip-phones with smart phones. (Computers on the road---what could be better???)
A few days after we returned home, the search began.
I have to admit at first, I was a little overwhelmed. When we started to see how much smart phones cost, I was completely overwhelmed. (I had no idea---after all, my shiny flip phone cost all of $29.99 brand spanking new!)
Then we found a sale. (CHA-CHING!!!) Not only were the phones only $1 if you signed up for a plan, but the plans were discounted, too. After a few deep breathes to avoid a panic attack (after all, these contracts were for 2 years) my brother persuaded me that everything would be fine and it was time to take this step.
Everything was going really well, I picked out a phone and a case. I was even learning how to use it. I was on board and ready to take the leap, until the salesman tried to sell us a protection plan for our new phones.
Then the whole deal came to a screeching halt.
Yes, it was just minutes before we signed the final contracts and paid the bill when the salesman started explaining how absolutely necessary it was buy insurance on the phones. On and on he went about how extremely delicate they were and how even the slightest drop could shatter your phone to pieces leaving you making payments for service on a phone that was now unusable.
The more he talked, the more my blood pressure began to rise. Can you say, “Panic??”
We were just about to make what was for me a major financial commitment, and here was this man saying that if we didn’t add the monthly cost of insurance (which I could not afford) to our bill, I might as well flush the whole thing down the toilet!!! This dude was selling and selling hard.
The only thing was that his high pressure sales routine wasn’t making me want to buy insurance. Instead, it was filling me with fear that was causing me to want to walk away from the entire purchase.
In fact, a few minutes later, that’s what I decided to do.
Filled with fear, I changed my mind and said, “I’m sorry but if the phones break that easily and it’s that risky, than I won’t be buying one.”
Like so many other times in life, fear was keeping me from going forward.
Of course, faced with the loss of a sale, the salesman quickly changed his tune and said, “Listen, they just tell us to say that stuff so you’ll buy the insurance. If you’re careful, your phone will be fine.” After A LOT of convincing, I finally decided to overcome my fear and move forward.
Over the next few weeks, I actually started using it. (At first, I was afraid it would break.)
Now, a year later, I’ve found that the phone has become an invaluable asset as we’ve moved into a time of more travelling and expanding our ministry. Not only did it not break, but it provides GPS, allows me to work while we travel, and allows us to take credit cards at our travelling bookstore. Being willing to take this little step forward ultimately helped us take many other steps forward in our lives and our ministry---fulfilling the plans God has for our lives.
Yet, looking back a year later, I can see that all of these advances forward were almost hindered by the powerful weapon of FEAR.
---FEAR that the phone would break
---FEAR that we wouldn’t be able to pay our bills
---FEAR of new things.
As I look at my own life and the life of many other women, I believe that FEAR is often one of the biggest things that keeps us from following God’s will for our lives, becoming the women He wants us to be, and fulfilling the purpose that He has for our lives. Rather than following Him into the future, we choose to follow fear and say, “No thanks, if it’s that risky, I’ll stay where I am.”
Then we wonder why we are frustrated and our lives seem stagnate. We become angry with God and ask, “When are You going to move?”W
All the time God is asking, “When are you going to stop being afraid and follow Me in the directions I am leading?”
The truth is that this year has brought many more changes to my life than just the addition of a smart phone. In the past 12 months, God has asked me to:
---Start attending a new church
---Go through the process of becoming a 501c3 non-profit ministry
---Partner with another woman to create For a Single Purpose Ministries
---Apply for and go through the process of becoming an ordained minister
---Writing and publishing two books (Both will be released in August)
Every time the Holy Spirit presented me with one of these challenges, my response was always the same: Absolute, Overwhelming, FEAR. (Well, at least I’m consistent)
Armed with “What if’s” and lists of everything that could go wrong, FEAR came knocking at my door every time the Holy Spirit presented a new door of opportunity. Each and every time I was presented with the same choice I had on the day I purchased my new phone: Are you going to let FEAR stop you or are going to take a risk and move forward?
I’ll be honest with you and say that not all of these answers came easy. There were many sleepless nights, and plenty of days where I held my breath wondering, “Why did we walk off these cliffs?” Still, I am happy to say that as we were faithful to overcome fear and follow God, He was faithful to give us everything we needed to do what He called us to do. This included giving me the courage to overcome fear and move forward---even if I was petrified every step of the way.
There’s a quote that says: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”― Meg Cabot.
By nature, I am not a brave person. (No kidding—most people don’t need to breath into a paper bag to get up the courage to buy a smartphone.)
So what gave me the courage to overcome fear so many times this year and move forward?
As Meg Cabot said, it was the judgment that something is more important than fear. For me, obeying God and fulfilling His purpose is that something. Because I love Him, I must do what He asks. That’s more important that fear. That is the deciding factor in my life.
As it says in 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love drives out fear.”
So often, we believe that the opposite of fear is faith. What I’m coming to believe is that the opposite of fear is love.
Because we love God, you and I can do whatever He challenges us to do, even if we are afraid.
Because we know that He loves us, we know that we can trust Him. This enables us to say like the psalmist in Psalm 61:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.”
The truth is that fear is a powerful emotion. But do you know what is stronger?
Love drives out fear enabling us to be strong and courageous even if we feel afraid.
Perhaps today, you are being faced with a challenge. Maybe you’re answering the question, “Am I going to let FEAR stop me or am I going to take a risk and move forward?”
Where can you find the motivation to take the risk and overcome fear?
By focusing on love…Love for God and the determination that following Him is more important than anything else in the world. Love that tells you He can be trusted.
Love that is willing to take a risk and overcome fear to do what God wants you to do.
They say that Love Conquers All. I don’t know if that’s true, but one thing I know for sure is that Love Conquers Fear allowing us to follow God wherever He leads, take a risk, and keep moving forward simply because we know that when we get to our destination, our Love will be there.
That’s our motivation.
That’s where we fine our bravery.
That’s where we find the faith to keep moving forward.
Love---the antidote for fear.