August 29, 2011

Facing Fear

Everyone great at what they do started with only a tiny passion stirring in their souls. Renowned artists, great literary novelists, world-changing inventors, influential teachers, pioneer missionaries, everyone.
I think of this when I see John Grisham. He lives here--working, walking, eating, sipping coffee--just like me, except from a much larger home base. He's an ordinary man who has pursued his passion. His writing started somewhere, probably with just an inkling of interest and a whole lot of fear about leaving a stable law career to write about people with law careers.

We forget that the J.K. Rowlings slaving away on a manuscript in a coffee shop, the Hudson Taylors leaving on a steamship for China, or the Julia Childs figuring a French recipe for American cooks did not know the outcomes or the end results of their passions while they pursued them. Most of the greats spend hours upon hours learning, growing, developing, and honing in obscurity. We, however, equate them with their end results. They are giants! We are nothings.

We also hear stories about models discovered on the streets, random happenstance leading to great success, and wrongly assume that the greats just fell into success. Certainly, they never experienced fear or obstacles or criticism or doubt or rejection. Certainly, they didn't have to put in time and effort. Certainly, they knew what they were doing from the start.

The categories are so clearly divided: them (lucky and favored) and us (mediocre and ordinary).

But it doesn't work that way.
The difference between the mediocres and the greats isn't fate or happenstance; it is that the greats have looked fear in the face and pushed through it.

Especially as believers, as we feel that soul stirring within us to pursue our God-given passions, we are going to face fear. Guaranteed. God is a God who values and rewards faith so even while He gives you a passion, He will also ask for your faith in pursuing it. He will allow obstacles and opportunities for fear, asking for your belief in Him. Waiting with anticipation: will she have faith in Me and so experience the gift I have in this or will she cower in fear, thinking I am not trustworthy?

It's what He did with Abraham. If you move forward in faith, I'll give you the nations as an inheritance. 
But there was that small thing of being old, a body almost dead.
It's what He did with Joshua. If you move forward in faith, I'll give you the Promised Land.
But there was that small thing of the Jericho wall and the -ites already in the land.
It's what He did with Esther. If you move forward in faith, I'll save your people.
But there was that small thing of protocol and of a hidden ancestry.
And life hung in the balance when it's what He did with Jesus. If you move forward in faith, I'll rescue the world.
But there was that not-small thing of the cross, with its nails and death.

Yes, they are the greats. (I can hear you debating me.) The Hall of Faith. (They are giants! I am nothing.) Meant to do world-altering things! (I am not so sure even if I have a passion or a calling, but I know for sure it's not any of those things. I'm just little old me.) To you I say: there you go again with the fear thing. Fear is the only thing keeping you from moving to the great category. Now, I'm not saying you'll automatically be famous or an expert in your field. But I am saying that you'll be useable because you'll be full of faith.

There will always be fear when we prepare to step out in faith; there is no detour around it.

And guess what? There will be fear with each new step forward. Just when you've got it cornered, God giddily calls you forward to see how you'll respond.

With each new step, we have an opportunity for faith.

We have the opportunity to prove God is who He was for Abraham, who He was for Joshua, and who He was for Esther. Who He's been all along.

Will you take it?

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I got a little carried away there! I do have some more to say so join me tomorrow for more on how to battle fear....