The last year has been possibly the most exciting, frightening, amazing, and scary time of our times. Over the past 52 weeks, we have been in the process of raising support to become full-time missionaries. This process has brought out many emotions. More than I have already mentioned. Many of them joyful. Some of them painful. Others terrifying. What we have come to realize is that one of the primary ways that Satan has attacked us during this process is with fear. Fear and self-doubt.
Fear that we won’t get fully supported.
Fear that we won’t be good missionaries.
Fear that we will not make friends.
Fear that we aren’t going to make a difference.
Fear that we will fail.
Fear of not finding a place to live.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just some of them. For someone who hasn’t really dealt with fear much in the past, the process and battle with fear has been quite a learning experience. What we have come to discover is that in every situation, we have the choice of two responses, fear or faith. Fear has kept me from making a needed support raising phone call. Faith has enabled us to dream and pray big.
These two choices of either fear or faith very much shape the direction in which we head. Fear or faith determine whether we lay it all on the line or play it safe. One of my favorite stories in the New Testament hinges with these too choices. It is the story of when Peter walks on water. I’m sure most of you are very familiar with the story. If not, it can be found in Matthew 14:22-33.
One of my favorite parts of this story is when Peter finally steps out of the boat. In his mind and heart, he might have had one foot firmly planted in the boat and the other foot indecisively touching the water. For Peter, it is a battle between fear and faith. Who is he going to listen to? The friends in the boat full of fear? Or the friend that is standing on the water encouraging faith? But Jesus gives Peter a simple, single word command. “Come.” Then Peter immediately makes the decision to choose faith, and instantly becomes the only man other than Jesus to walk on water. A few moments later, fear catches up with him and he starts to sink. However, Jesus reaches out his hand and pulls Peter up and they walk to the boat together. Peter didn’t lack a quality of faith; he lacked a quantity of faith.
One of the truths that I see in Peter’s walking on water experience is that fear is something that we have to continually deal with. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in 1 John 4:18. “There is no fear in love. But prefect love drives out fear.” That is the verse that we have held onto as we have walked the sometimes scary road of support raising. The most amazing part of it all, is it is true. Jesus, in His prefect love, drives out fear.
There have been more than a few times that I have been moved to tears when I think about all that God has done. Over and over again, God is proving Himself to be trustworthy. There has not been a single time that we stepped out on faith that God let us fall. He never let us sink. Things certainly didn’t always work out the way that we thought they would. However, God, in His infinite wisdom, has worked things out in a way that is far better than we thought.
Out of all the names for God, I have given Him a new one, “fear replacer.” Every single time that we step out in faith and God comes through, the fear is replaced with faith. He has shown Himself time and time again that He can be trusted. And every time He does something amazing, we stand in awe of Him. We stand like kids in a magic show thinking, “Do it again! Do it again!” What we have learned is that when faith is all you have, it becomes all you really need. Stepping out in faith and trusting God is such an exhilarating experience.
There is another story is another story in the Bible where fear and faith hang in the balance, and that is when the Israelites are caught between a rock and a hard place. Actually it was the Red Sea and the pursuing Egyptian army, but you get the idea. After 400+ years of being slaves in Egypt, the Israelites have finally been reluctantly set free. As they are making their exit, they come up against the Red Sea. With the Egyptian army chasing them, there is no where to go. However, it seems that in the moments when all hope seems lost, God does something miraculous. This time is no different. Moses stretches out his hand, God parts the Rea Sea, and every single Israelite walks down an aisle of dry land. When the Israelites were faced with and most likely filled with fear, God showed them that taking a step of faith in spite of fear, makes all the difference.
God is replacing our fear with faith. We spent the last year trusting Him in our support raising, and we will spend the rest of our lives trusting Him in our mission work. What about you? In the inner battle of fear or faith, are you willing to step out of the boat? You will never know what God is capable of doing through you if you stay in the boat. Who knows, you might just walk on water. Or walk through water on dry land.