A few weeks ago, I heard someone say that faith and fear are essentially the same thing: They are both confidence in something that hasn't yet happened... What makes the distinction is where that confidence is directed.
Faith is that confidence, oriented around the Lord. Faith clings to who God is.
Fear is that confidence oriented around the absence of who God promises He is.
If we're confident that God is a provider, then we aren't afraid to give when He asks us to give, even if it's our last $5. If we're confident that He is faithful, we aren't afraid to follow His voice, even if it's into the unknown. If we're confident that He's loving, we aren't afraid when He's leading us into surrender, even if it means letting go of something we really want. Faith empowers you to step into the scary, the unresolved, the risky, the impossible, because your confidence is resting in the Most Dependable Being that has ever existed. In that context, we can believe that even if the worst case scenario plays out, we will be carried, covered, cared for, redeemed.
But if we're confident in the circumstance without factoring in God's purehearted love for us, that giving suddenly looks like we'll just end up lacking; that step into the unknown looks like we'll fall; that surrender looks like we'll end up dissatisfied...so we stay still. We clutch our money to our chests. We dig our heels into the ground we're familiar with, we shake our head "no" as He gently prompts us to loosen our grip on something.
Faith frees. Fear paralyzes
As I reflected on fear's role in my life, I realized fear has actually called most of the shots for me. Sometimes it's been blatant (like my long-standing, irrational fear of elevators.) Sometimes, when it's been more subtle, I've covered it up as just being Type A - "just wanting to be prepared for what might come."
There is certainly nothing wrong with foresight and preparedness, but when I stepped back to honestly examine my motives, I found most of them were entirely fear-based: Preparedness is my way of controlling a situation, exercising the quiet belief that I can earn assurance and security in xyz if I work hard enough, or give it enough time and attention beforehand.
I could (and will, at some point) write a whole separate blog post about fear, because it is an important and interesting topic for Christians ("...who have not been given a spirit of fear..." as quoted in the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7). But the point I wanted to make in this post comes back to what I heard a few weeks back, about faith and fear being made of the same material.
I was ashamed and overwhelmed at my personal propensity to be so fearful. It felt like a miserably complex web I didn't know how to untangle myself from. Hopelessness easily came and set up camp when I examined what it would look like to (try to) rid myself of fear completely.
But the idea that fear is just misdirected faith triggered a swell of empowering hope in me - because I realized that maybe, just maybe, every area of fear is actually just a potential area of faith. Maybe particularly fearful people are really people with the gift of faith (as it's listed in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 9) who just haven't realized they've been angling it the wrong direction!
Now, this is my theory, not founded theology...but it makes a lot of sense to me. That our God, who is through and through a redeemer, would equip us to be strong in the areas we have been notoriously weak in. That He would readily exchange fear for faith, if we're willing to be brave enough to redirect our assurance towards Him.
I've decided that fear doesn't get to call the shots anymore. I know it will be a longer process of untangling and rewiring over time, but I'm willing to commit myself to it. I have the ability to cast off what once held me captive and plant something beautiful and powerful in its place - so do you!
So I'm starting small. I'm kicking out fear where I can identify it easily, and making space for faith instead. I honestly believe that when we're faithful to lay down whatever fear has been standing in the way, the Lord is faithful to bring some sweet, formidable faith into the space we've cleared. I made the declaration that I would never say "no" to something if the only reason for my answer was fear... Which, this time, looked like playing live music in public! Next time, who knows what it will look like...
What would it look like for you?
Mayce is a young writer from the USA who loves the adventure of living life alongside Jesus. She is currently living in Australia, where she works as a full-time volunteer with Youth With A Mission, Brisbane.