Overcoming Fear

Video Clip: Saving Silverman

Sometimes we just want to hide from the world don’t we?  Whatever it is that we are supposed to do, or that we are expected to do feels like its more than we can handle, and so rather than engaging our task or our conflict, or whatever it is, we cower in fear … we throw a jacket over our head and pretend to be a coat-rack in hopes that the source of our fear will just pass by, sparing whatever punishment might otherwise befall us.

I get it … and this is kind of a light illustration, but nonetheless:

PERSONAL STORY:  When I was about 15 years old I was pitching for the first time in a little league baseball game.  I’d always been a catcher and a second baseman, and I didn’t really have a good curve ball or anything, but had matured a little bit faster than most of the other kids my age and could throw just a straight fastball that most kids couldn’t catch up with.  I came in around the 4th inning … was a little wild in the warm ups, but got it under control by the first batter.  And one after the next, three hitters came up, swung at 3 pitches each and missed every ball.  I’d struck out the side in 9 pitches!  And I know that pitchers aren’t supposed to show emotion, but I’m sure I was smiling like a chunky 5 year old on his birthday as I walked off the field.

Next inning rolls around, I probably strut back out there, maybe flex a little for the other dugout or wink or do something chochy that 15 year old me thinks will be intimidating … and the warm ups end and Brandon Pilgrim steps into the batters’ box.

At 15 years old Brandon is probably 6 inches taller than I am, at least 75 lbs heavier, had bright red hair and a nasty goatee, and was just uglier than dammit …  if anyone followed college football between 2004 and 2007, he was a starting offensive lineman for Clemson.  And to top it off he was a fastball hitter.

On the first pitch of the inning, Brandon connects with a low, fastball and sends a BB right back at me.  And this is not for dramatic effect, I promise; it felt like I had a full minute to react and still couldn’t get my glove down in front of my right shin in time, and I hobbled off the mound while the third baseman tried to finish the play.

Now, don’t get me wrong here … it hurt … I had seam marks imprinted into my skin and a nice bruise … but functionally, nothing was messed up.  There was no reason that I couldn’t go on pitching, but for some reason, when I tried, I couldn’t throw the ball across the plate anymore.  In the dirt and halfway up the backstop, sure, but nowhere near the strike-zone.

Something had changed in my head and it was keeping me from doing what I knew I was capable of doing … it was crippling me.

At the simplest level, what do you think it was?  FEAR.

“What if the next guy sends one off my face, or right into my jugular?”

I was afraid of getting hit again and had to be pulled from the game.

Problem: “Fear cripples … and we’ve got plenty of ‘what if’ questions to fear, don’t we?”

Fear Questions:

  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if I don’t get a job?
  • What if he breaks up with me?
  • What if she says no?
  • What if my parents are disappointed?
  • What if they think I’m stupid?
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if I’m not good enough?
  • What if I make the wrong decision?
  • What if I fail?

Well, people have been asking ‘what if’ questions and trying to get out of scary responsibilities since the beginning of people, and this morning we’re going to look at a story that you’ve all heard before to see how God chooses to enter into our fears.

Summarize Exodus 3 – “Moses should have nothing to fear”

Read 4:1-17

FEAR (4:1): External Circumstance – What if Something Goes Wrong?

VERSE (4:2): “What’s in your hand? … ” – God can use what we perceive as ordinary and powerless to do extraordinary things. What do you have at your disposal … what gifts have you been given that you and God can use in this circumstance?

What does Moses use to bring the plagues upon Egypt?  To part the Red Sea?  To bring water out from a rock when the people are thirsty? … His Staff … God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary!

FEAR (4:10):  Insecurity – What if I Screw Up … if I’m just not good enough?

VERSE (4:11-12): “Who [gave humans their] made your mouth?” – our faith and our confidence cannot be in ourselves and our own ability, but in our God and God’s ability … even more, in God’s desire to use even us.  God promises to act where we feel weakest (ref.) because our God does not require our strength, but our obedience!

FEAR (4:13): Crippled – Outright Refusal to Engage

VERSE (4:14-16): What about Aaron?” – “Community and relationship is the way that God confronts our giving up.”  You don’t have to respond to God’s call alone, but God doesn’t let you off the hook either.  Moses was still called to bring a nation out of slavery and that is exactly what he did … and God adequately equipped him to that task.

God Confronted Moses fears on all 3 levels:

Conclusion: Does anyone know what the most frequent command in scripture is? The command “Do Not Fear” can be found over 100 times throughout the scriptures.

God created us and has promised to interact with us in a way that should put all of our fears to rest.   “What is in your hand?  I’ll use it. Who made your mouth?  I’ll use it.  What about your brother Aaron?  I’ll use him.  What I have called you into, I will not let you fail to accomplish.”

True life is not responding to fear well; it is overcoming it … it is the end of fear.

1 John 4:16-18 – … God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What are you most afraid of professionally, personally, and relationally?
  2. What do you have “in your hands” that God can use?
  3. What does it mean to you that God made you and calls you into meaningful, sometimes scary work?
  4. Who can be Aarons in your different places of fear?  Do you think that you would be willing to call on them if need be?

~ by Will Norman on October 18, 2009.

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