As a little girl, I had messy hair and didn't care. I was bold, brave, spoke my mind without worrying about what anyone thought about me. I was still in my single digits (7-9 years old). I was happy and loved.
As the years progressed into my early teens, I somehow became a timid, quiet, and fearful person. In my heart of hearts, I believed that no one loved me - not even God. I would have told you at that time that I believed i was loved by God, but, despite the great examples all around me, I did not truly understand what Christ-like love really was. I gave into worrying about what other people thought of me; especially my peers. I grew very shy and afraid to even talk much around my "friends." I was terrified that they would hear what I said and not give any value to my words. I felt insignificant. In my fear, I limited myself in every way possible.
After years of this torture, I met someone who believed in me and made me feel as though I might actually have something to offer the world. She encouraged me and corrected me at times - true friends do both. She was a representation of Jesus. She saw my strengths and my flaws, yet still loved me unconditionally. Through this example of love, I started to believe that I was significant. I remembered that God really does love me and that He had a plan for my life.
I know I'm not the only one who has experienced fear. It has been around since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. But the truth is, sin hinders one's full potential. It is important to understand that we have an enemy, and he is trying his hardest to target us at our weakest points. Why? Because he is so terrified of our potential! Oh the amazing work we can give for God's Kingdom when we are not limited by fear.
First, he targets the mind. If the devil can get us to doubt God and His Word, or persuade us to believe that we are insignificant to our Creator, he already has us under his thumb. It limits us from having great impact for the Kingdom of God. We will always have faith in something or someone whether it is rooted in truth or a lie.
So how do we break out of this cycle of constant worrying and a fearful mindset? Let's take a look at what God's Word has to say:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2Timothy 1:7 NKJV
"Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety" Proverbs 29:25 NLT
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been perfect in love." 1John 4:18 NLT
It is clear that fear is not from God, but rather, "love dispels fear."
What is perfect love?
Perfect love was God, putting on skin and bones and coming to the habitat that He designed for us, then sacrificing Himself for a hurting world to put everything back into its original, perfect design. Love is annihilating all punishment as a result of sin. That is pretty crazy to know that God personally got involved.
1John 4:8 states that "God is love." Verse 9 goes on to say (paraphrasing) that God sent His Son into the world so that we could live through Him (love). It is His nature to love. The word also tells us that "love covers a multitude of sins (1Peter 4:8)." God covered our failures; they never take Him by surprise. He gives us the ability to choose between fear and love. Love equals freedom, not freedom to do whatever we want, but freedom to be victorious in every situation when we choose Him first.
I would be lying to say that we will never face fear again, but rather, when fearful feelings come, we have a decision. We can choose to respond with fearful motives, or we can choose to dispel fear with the love of Jesus. It takes courage to choose love. Which will you choose?
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10 NLT
"This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 NLT