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When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

I was only about six years old. We were living at a cabin for the summer and I enjoyed having the lake and summer friends to play with. I particularly enjoyed the boat trips across the lake to my grandfathers’ cabin. Much as I loved that summer, there was one incident that stays solid in my mind. I loved the boat rides and I loved playing in the water as long as I could touch bottom. If I couldn’t touch bottom I was terrified because I couldn’t swim.

One day a friend of mine and I were playing in the water and around an old row boat on shore. We pulled the boat out far enough to float on it and play around it. In the course of our play I somehow ended up in the boat and out farther than I wanted to be. My friend lost his grip on the boat and I was suddenly ‘free floating’ with no oars, no life-jacket and no adult within sight. I panicked! I was sure I was going to drown and screamed for help. In the midst of my fear my older brother came running and walked out into the water to rescue me. Turns out that even though I thought I was over my head, I wasn’t. I just couldn’t see the bottom.

Fear plays strange games with us and we live in a society that mocks fear and praises the ‘heroes of our lives’ that baulk at fear and act courageously in dangerous situations. Even religion glorifies bravery and ridicules fear. Ever heard a positive sermon on the terrified disciples in the storm? Most likely, not. We focus on Jesus’ rebuke of the wind and storm.

Fear can have a positive effect on our lives. We should never discount fear as an improper emotion in the life of a Christ-follower. The truth of that fact is illustrated in the book of Psalms and elsewhere. David says ‘When I’m afraid’ not ‘IF I’m afraid.’ Although he prayed and trusted God, you can’t tell me there wasn’t some fear in the heart of Daniel when he was lowered into the Lion’s Den; or in Moses as he walked into Pharaoh’s palace; or in Isaac as he lay on the altar while his father approached him with the butcher knife from the kitchen. Fear is real!

Fear isn’t the issue though; it’s what we do with the fear in our lives that counts. Fear can force us to rely closer on God or drive us to our own resources. The question isn’t if it’s okay to be afraid, the question is who (or what) do I turn to when I’m afraid.
Fear can cause us to move forward cautiously. Fear of broken relationships with God or others can keep us from sin. Fear can help us grow wiser as we carefully look at the possible consequences and outcomes of each situation.

Don’t let the fear in your life keep you defeated. Use it to grow closer to God, stronger in faith and more powerful in the Spirit!

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you that you understand my fears. I pray that you would enable me to use the fears I have to grow closer to you, to walk wisely and to live victoriously. Thank you that during the biggest times of fear in my life I can trust you to see me through. Amen.

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March 2012
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