When I’m Afraid...

How often do you feel fear creeping up in your chest and diverting you from the path you would want for yourself. One morning this week between my devotional time and other things I tuned into before breakfast I heard three messages about fear. I was convicted that I had made some fear-based decisions and it reminded me of the lyrics to a song by my friend John Millea who is a fantastic Seventh-day Adventist songwriter. Allow me to share and comment on the lyrics from his song "When I’m Afraid" on his album "Things New & Old." You can find it on iTunes and other music services. Here it goes:

Do you know how I feel 

I’m afraid of things imagined

They’re not real but I feel them in my soul

It’s a bad habit

I recently made a choice that excluded a group of people from a ministry opportunity because I imagined they might have conflicting goals. Maybe they would have. But I didn’t even have the conversation with them. There were people who agreed with me that I was making the right choice but in the future, I hope to have the conversation first to see how we might collaborate instead of assuming I know what they will or won’t do. The next part of the song is instructive for this:

Why should I be afraid

Of things that haven’t even happened

Jesus said don’t you fret

Forget the future

Take the present

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

Do you imagine things going badly and bail out before anything bad actually happens like I sometimes do? It is so reassuring to know that we can trust in Jesus. He has the title Immanuel, which means, God with us. His nature is to be the God who is always with us. Psalm 139 asks, “Where I can go from Your presence?” David, the author of that Psalm couldn’t think of a place. Even when we sin He pursues us just like He pursued Adam and Eve after they fell into sin. Maybe you’ve been there. John Millea has. He sings:

And sometimes I’m afraid

Of things that happened not that long ago

Mistakes I made in the past be coming up

Get me low

Maybe you are afraid of something that actually has happened. You don’t trust yourself. You might do the same stupid thing again. Maybe you’ve done it a thousand times. Look at John’s remedy for all of us. It also has to do with something that has already happened and has the power to change our future:

Why should I be afraid

When for sin an open fountain flows

He shed his blood poured out like love

So he could wash me white as snow

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

You can bravely try again because Jesus has the magic eraser that can take away all your mistakes and again, He will be with you and help you as you trust in Him this time.

The bridge lays out some powerful fears that can keep us paralyzed with fear:

I’m afraid of being lonely

I’m afraid that no one understands

I’m afraid that no one loves me

I’m so afraid that no one cares

But those fears are all lies as the final chorus reminds us:

Why should I be afraid

He is reaching out his hand

He knows my heart

Every part

He loves me in spite of what I am

Or what you do, or say, or even think. He loves you, period. When you are afraid remember that God loves you without conditions. You can’t change that even if you try. May we let His love penetrate every inch of our flighty hearts and repeat with John Millea:

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

What does this kind of love free you to do? Does it free you to affirm people who need a word from you? To initiate a hug or a handshake? Does it help you to talk to strangers as a witness of God’s love? Does it enable you to be a friend to those scary teenagers you don’t understand who actually appreciate you? Does it help you to know that you will have enough even if you give of your time, talents, and finances generously?

You are not alone friend. Be free. When big brother Jesus has your back, you’re going to be ok. It doesn’t mean the thing that causes you fear isn’t a factor. You should acknowledge it and bring it to Jesus and repeat those words:

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

When I’m afraid I’ll trust in you

And be and do what the Lord created you to do. - Pastor Nick

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