At a women's ministry event I recently attended we were asked the question, "What is your greatest fear?" We know the acronyms -- False Evidence Appearing Real or Future Events Already Ruined -- but have we really considered what fear looks like in our own lives?
At the end of our meeting some of us shared the discussions that had taken place at our tables. As I began to share it dawned on me that my greatest fear is losing control and actually trusting God with the details of my life. And I dare say I am not alone. Let me give you a couple of practical examples that many of us can relate to.
Money is tight. Bills are due and there is only so much in the bank to cover them. Yet God calls us to bring him the first fruits of our income and tithe to his work in our local churches. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10, NIV). Do we trust enough in God's provision to be obedient in our giving and receive his blessing, regardless of the method he chooses to bless us? Or do we hold tightly onto every last cent only to find that what we possess is inadequate anyway? Often it isn't the monetary lack that gets me; it is the sense of regret that I didn't obey and trust God to hold up his end of the deal. When I choose instead to obey and give, regardless of whether or not I feel I can afford to, I find that it is indeed truly more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
For those of us with teenage and young adult children we struggle with the fear that they will get involved with a negative peer group and choose a lifestyle of sin that will hinder their relationship with God and result in potentially devastating consequences for their lives. We not only pray for them but we push them to choose faith in God, sometimes instead turning them away from God and alienating them in the process. We fear releasing them into God's loving and capable hands because perhaps deep down we feel it is our responsibility to make sure they are saved and walking with the Lord. Yes, we must certainly train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), but we must lead them with a pure heart, a listening ear, a quiet and gentle voice, in the full measure of God's grace. God loves them even more than we do. Surely he can be trusted to do whatever is in the best interest of our children, even if he has to use adversity and unpleasant consequences to get their attention.
For me fear all boils down to where I place my trust. When I exercise the faith to trust God with all that concerns me -- my finances, my children, or my need for wisdom to handle sticky situations -- and stop "playing God" by trying to control every aspect of my life, I find peace and joy despite the circumstances.
My greatest fear used to be the fear of losing control. But as I have aged and grown in my relationship with God he has shown me that he is trustworthy and true to his Word, and more than capable of handing anything that comes my way. The secret in conquering that fear is to let go of everything I've been holding onto and instead hold onto him.
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