Stepping out in faith to attempt something new for God is hard. Making the initial decision is hard, but following through with it can be even harder. As we attempt to live into the new and scary journey God calls us to, uncertainty and fear well up in our hearts. We wonder, can I really do this? Did I really hear God’s leading correctly? Was it really God who called me to this or was it just me?
The temptation is to give into doubt. We feel inadequate and under qualified for the work of God, and so we think we must have made a mistake. As we attempt to do the thing God has called us to do, we become aware that we, in our own strength, cannot do that which we are called to do. So we doubt we are doing the right thing, and we fear failure is inevitable.
But I think we have it backwards. Throughout the Scriptures, the people who have done the most amazing things for God have been racked with fear. The people who saw God powerfully at work in their lives and lived in intimate communion with him were often times overwhelmed and even paralyzed with fear. God has to repeatedly remind his people not to fear — the command not to fear shows up repeatedly throughout the Bible. This means that being afraid is not unnatural, and doubt should not change our course. Fear and doubt are things we will all feel when we get serious about following God. If we are stepping out in faith, like all the saints before us, we will feel fear like they did as well. So with the help of some trusted spiritual advisors, I’m learning that feeling fear is an indicator of a life lived by faith.
When I my obedience to God leads me to a place of feeling fearful, I can be encouraged. This is normal and even good. The fear that used to sabotage my ministry with uncertainty and doubt is now a form of encouragement that affirms my faith journey. Fear works as an emotional reminder that I am walking by faith. I am right in the place that I ought to be, and I’m most likely to see God at work in my life because I’m living by faith.