"There's nothing wrong with having fear in life.
There's everything wrong with living according to it."
It's been a long while since my last blog entry. The reason? Well, I could easily blame a vast array of culprits from work & ministry, travel, family, procrastination, or just respond with the same ole get-out-of-it-quick phrase 'I just don't have enough time.' But the answer to the question is plain and simple: I hadn't written any more due to... fear.
You see, fear is a mystery. It takes something tiny, and blows it up into this unreal monster that haunts you until you feel entirely overwhelmed. It has the power to paralyze you, to steal away your potential and blessings, and it sucks the greatness that God dreams for you right out of your bones. And the byproduct of fear is just more fear and a bucket full of regrets and what-if's. That has been me for all this time.
Last year was particularly hard for me. Growing pains, in every sense of the word. Yes, ministry was thriving, and so was my work load. New things were sprouting, blessings increasing, many seeds finally bearing fruit after a decade of ministry, as God has promised. But trying to find balance in it all--God, family, church, touring, production, more projects--proved the most challenging task of all. In trying to manage my time, I stumbled and overworked myself (something that is not strange for me).
In that over extension of my time and energy, I faced some sort of a physical burnout. I got sick many times while on tour and every time doctors did what they best could to get me back on my feet quickly, and be ‘ready’ for the next event in the next city. Of course, this was by pumping me with chemicals (sorry, medicine), which in turn causes adverse side effects, one of them being a weakened immune system. So each time I'd get sick it'd be significantly worse than the prior. And so began a detrimental and entrapping cycle. The true root of it all was that I was just exhausted! Worst of all, I was not keeping the sacred order of work-rest that God established and mandated. And, oh how I was feeling those consequences! But we'll talk more in detail about all I've learned about rest another day. For now, we'll stick to the subject at hand, fear.
Those of you that I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and interacting with know that I’m happiest surrounded by people (in fact, often my times with people at meet-and-greets sharing, chatting and exchanging expressions of love is more fulfilling to me than the time I spend on the platform—which is a lot to say, because I evidently enjoy singing and leading worship to the fullest, but just wanted to put that out there). Being surrounded by people I can love on and express God's love to is invigorating to me. However, in the midst of this deep exhaustion of body and soul brought on by giving and giving without resting, I began to slowly develop a mental cocoon. I attempted to hide myself, perhaps trying to protect what little energy and mental resources I had left. An mental/emotional self-preservation of sorts. My smile, once ever so spontaneous and frequent, wasn't always 'there'. Just the thought of giving more of myself away for the love of people started to seem dreadful. That was not me. What was happening to me!?
So, I went to God. my rock, my guide, my very best friend, and asked what was wrong with me. Where did my joy go? Why was I becoming this person that I surely did not like? Why did I feel like I was reverting back to the person I used to be a long time ago and that I never wanted to be again--irritable, tired, restless, and even a little proud? In my cry for help, He ever so kindly and tenderly responded, "You're exhausted. And you're exhausted because of fear."
What? Did He say fear? I've always thought of myself as fearless, so this was a shocker to me. As I sat there with my Lord just pondering what I'd just heard God speak to my heart, He added. "And what you're most afraid of is being used and then discarded, not valued for who you are, but by what you do or the influence I’ve given you."
Wow! I had to take a deep breath as I received those words in my heart. It was strong to hear it, but He was so right. But, how did I get there? Yes, I know that in this walk of ministry life, especially the kind where you work with masses of people, you experience all kinds of personalities and attitudes. People in all walks and processes of life and faith. Some experiences better than others, but all are evidence of our need for Christ to help us develop His character in our lives. And so I kept asking myself, where and when did I open a spiritual door that allowed the spirit of fear to come in? I could feel God's sweet whisper answer my thoughts, "Do you remember that time you were so disappointed and you said 'I just don't want to be used anymore!'?" Yes, I certainly remembered. And then God delivered the final yet gentle blow by saying "Does that also include me?”
And suddenly in that very moment I realized that I had made a vow in my heart. I judged others instead of loving them, and with no regard of how God felt about it. And I wept. I asked for forgiveness, retracted those pain-driven words, and repented. A few minutes later I could hear His tender voice in my heart again, "Is it really such a bad thing that others want to come close to you for what you have? Don't be afraid to give it. You don't have to give yourself away anymore. Give ME away. I am what you have, and will always be. You are finite, while I am infinite. You are small, while I am big. You will one day end, while I endure forever. Give ME. Show them ME. Talk to them about ME. Continue pointing them to ME." And just like that my fear was gone. In HIM.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP),
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
That scripture came to life in a whole new light that day. We cannot give God if we have fear, because He does not give fear. You see, there's nothing wrong with having fear in life, but there's everything wrong with living according to it. Whenever I start to feel fear creeping up its ugly little head, I simply repeat this scripture to my soul, and pray that God is in the center of whatever it is that I'm doing that may cause me to feel overwhelmed. I refuse to give fear the place that corresponds to God in my life. If He's not in it, I don't want it. If He's not in me, I have nothing to give. But when He's in it, there is absolutely nothing to fear!