Have you ever been really scared? There’s nothing worse than being paralyzed by fear.
For many people, there is a constant battle of fear or anxiety. What’s the difference? Fear is based on something that’s tangible or known. When you’re walking down a dark alley and someone pulls a gun on you, you’ll probably experience some sense of fear. If you’re walking down a dark alley with no threat, but you’re scared, that’s anxiety — a product of something unknown; worrying about what is possible. It’s perceived, but not immediate.
Early on in my professional baseball career I experienced a lot of anxiety around the idea of failure. I was back and forth for a while between the minor leagues and the big leagues. I worried about not performing and putting myself in a situation where I would be sent down. After more than a year of this crippling anxiety, I got to the end of my rope. I was exhausted from being scared. I was tired of being worried and afraid about where I would be tomorrow, next week and next year. That was the moment I decided to fully surrender to God. I was turning my life over to Him, choosing to trust Him.
The opposite of fear and anxiety is peace, and that’s exactly what God offers to us. That’s the only rational way to explain how I went from fear and anxiety to peace, and the vehicle to get me there was prayer. I was surprised to find that all of a sudden, my fear was gone and peace replaced it. I think that’s how the disciples felt when the storm was raging on the sea and they were terrified, only to experience an immediate and complete sense of calm when Jesus spoke a word. Immediate peace.
I grew up in church, I was baptized and confirmed, and I went to a Christian school, but a switch was turned for me on the day I truly gave my life to Christ. I believe that moment of coming to peace happens to all of us who experience salvation through Him. It took me a while to get there, but the transformation was so real I knew I never wanted to go back.
Today, I’m in a situation where I’m able to speak into my daughter’s life on a very personal level. Lately, Abby has been experiencing a great amount of anxiety. With all of the unknowns in our world today, and the question of if she’ll be going to school or not tomorrow, Abby is afraid. The first thing I told her was that I know her fear is real. So many of us deal with anxiety and fear today. Though the world tends to sow fear and discord, God sows peace and unity. The question is, “What are we giving audience to — the wisdom of the world or of God?” We live in a culture of fear, which is only exasperated by the things of this world. There are opportunities for anxiety at every corner, threatening to rob us of our peace.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward even when we are afraid. Courage is not allowing our fear to paralyze us into inactivity or inaction. Every day we can decide to move forward through our fears and past our problems. In Luke 8:25, Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?” This may seem like a harsh question, but if we truly trust in God, we don’t have any reason to fear. Learning to trust God is a process, and again, the vehicle to get there is through prayer.
First Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” This picture reflects one of a fisherman, who has to cast his line repeatedly in order to get a catch. It’s a repetitive process; it takes practice. We have to practice overcoming our fears and allowing God to give us the tools to move us beyond them. If you allow negativity to invade your mind, it will slowly rewrite the script of your life.
Just this morning, the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth, even before she opened her eyes was, “I don’t want to go to school!” She was reinforcing the negative emotion she felt. I’m trying to get her to say, “Today is going to be a good day,” even when she didn’t feel like it, she could rewrite the narrative. When we believe God is with us, equipping us for every battle, we can face our fears. My daughter is only 10, and my heart aches knowing that she will experience many situations in which she will be tempted to fear. But I also know these circumstances will drive her closer to God. I believe that’s why God wants to use our fear to drive us back to Him — it creates a process within us to go back to Him, to depend on Him. When we do that, we grow in our faith and assurance in His power. We know He hears us.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are 365 verses that say “fear not” in the Bible. Use them. Equip yourself to face what is in front of you, knowing that God has prepared you in advance for what He’s calling you to today.
— Scott Linebrink, former MLB pitcher
Scott Linebrink is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Scott’s Increase profile here:
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