Fear

If you know me at all, you know I'm kind of a weenie. My whole life has basically been characterized by fear. I'm scared of scary movies … tornados … heights … big dogs I don't know … boogie men … driving too fast. Sheesh. And that's just for a start. Then we get to the serious things that cause the greatest fear -- things like being out of control … something happening to our kids … being abandoned and rejected … not knowing what's ahead. Yep, life itself can be pretty scary, and I have let it define me for much of my life.

But God...

I was reading in the chapter of Judges today about Gideon. He too was characterized by fear. And he had good reason! The Midianites are encamped around Israel, brutally harassing them, eating all their food and taking their livestock. Israel's very survival was at stake, but the Midianites were huge in number. They just kept coming, kept coming. God calls Gideon, who was hiding out, to conquer the Midianites. Read the story. It's great!

The thing that stood out to me most is that God knew Gideon's heart. He knew that Gideon was afraid. He knew that Gideon felt forsaken by Him and totally alone. God patiently loved Gideon to a place where Gideon could trust Him. God spoke to Gideon and then proved Himself not once, but twice with a fleece of wool. (Again, read the story!)

But then what does God do? He asks Gideon to go down to the camp of the enemy. Don't hide. Don't run away. Face your fears. Stand up to the enemy. Basically, God is saying, "Now is the time for you to introduce your fears to Me."

When we stand up to our fears, strengthened in God, knowing His Word, knowing Him, what do we see? We don't just see with our physical eyes anymore. We don't just see from our perspective. God gives us a bigger picture. Oh, we might not see the future. In fact, we rarely do. We might not see any way at all that this battle can be won, but we know our God … especially in the midst of the pain, in the midst of the fear, in the midst of the uncertainty. When everything is stripped away from us, all that we placed our security in, all that we have is our Lord.

And that's enough.

It was enough for Gideon. It was enough for the 300 warriors (down from 32,000). God led Gideon to pare down his army, and called them in to battle … in the dark … close to midnight … with torches and jars … with no weapons. Can you imagine those men surrounding the camp of over 100,000 Midianites? With just a torch and jar? With only 300 men? Their hearts were pounding. Their throats were dry. Darkness surrounded them. Their thoughts baited them with the impossibility and stupidity of this situation. But every one of the 300 men stood his ground, standing up to his fear. They knew the One that they served.

What about you? What enemy do you face? What is it that terrifies you? I told you some of the things that I've struggled with. And I've had some even darker and bigger fears that consumed large chunks of my life. In each instance, God works with me like He did Gideon. Bit by bit, He strips down the things that I've put my security in. Bit by bit, He empties me of any human resources that I can depend on. Bit by bit, I get down to absolutely nothing. It gets to where it's just me … and Him. THEN, it's the perfect time for the battle to begin.

Why? Because the Lord goes before me and fights the battle, just like He did for Gideon and the Israelites in Judges 7. Sometimes He does it all. Sometimes He calls me to fight alongside Him. Always, He calls me to participate in my obedience and trust Him. Gideon and his men willingly stepped in to the scary, awful situation of facing their worst fear, of being 100% dependent on God doing what only He could do and doing what He said He'd do. Sometimes our great fear is just exactly what God uses to strengthen us, to bring us closer to Him.

All of our expectations have to be put to rest. Our expectation of what God should do and how He should do it. Our expectation of our own strength and power. Our expectation of what the battle looks like. Our expectation of our own battle plan. Our expectation of what the victory will look like. Honestly, we don't know the answer to any of those things. But, we know Who we follow. We know He is good, that He's patient and kind, that He's gentle, that He has our best at heart, that He loves us abundantly, that ultimately the battle is His.

Oh, my friend, if God is whittling you down to nothing, take heart! Face your fears in Him and KNOW that the victory is coming.


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