I remember as a sixth grader being afraid to go on the Loch Ness Monster, an intimidating roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. To me, it was the granddaddy of all coasters, the riskiest ride one could possibly endure. To one of my best friends, it was the coolest thing you could ride in the park. Naturally, I had no choice but to ride it with him. As we joined the back of the long line for this popular coaster, I began to rethink the wisdom of this action. The two upside down loops looked imposing, the monstrous, mountainous drop terrifying. Deep down I knew this ride could not be safe. As we began to ascend the steps toward the ride’s boarding platform, I began a hopeless crusade to convince my friend we should turn around, while he used all manners of peer pressure to convince me we were doing the best thing. We approached the front of the line, and the fear was welling up within me. We were about to cross the point of no return…
I bet you, too, have had fears you would rather not have faced but needed to overcome. 2 Timothy 1:7 states that God has not given His followers a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-discipline. What are some practical steps we can take to tap into this power to overcome specific fears we are facing?
First, identify the origin of your fear. Realize that most fear doesn’t come from God. (There are notable exceptions, like possibly being afraid of the consequences of a sin, like drunk driving). Often, a specific fear is rooted in just one or two bad experiences in the past. For example, I’ve heard of someone being afraid to drive because they put a car in a ditch twenty years ago. People are often afraid of public speaking because someone laughed at them in school when they were young. Once you have identified the origin of your fear, the next step becomes even more powerful.
Expose the lies associated with your fear. John 8:44 says that Satan is the father of lies. He loves to keep followers of Jesus living in fear rather than living in faith. The devil is a master at telling lies. Much of our fear is based on creative and sinister lies that we rehearse in our heads, even subconsciously. One of the best ways to uncover these lies is to speak them out loud and expose them for what they are not—they are not truth. Like, “if I leave this abusive relationship, I’ll always be alone.” Or, “if I don’t get this raise or this new job or this new house or this new girlfriend, then I’ll never be happy again.” Stop manufacturing and believing worst-case scenarios.
Instead, declare the truth. Psalm 15:2 says we have to learn to speak the truth in our hearts. We must habitually speak the truth to ourselves and to others. It is a skill, and it needs to be practiced. It is a discipline. We have to work at it. The power of God’s truth always defeats the power of the Enemy’s deceit (recall Christ’s quoting Scripture aloud when being tempted by Satan in Matthew 4). Truth will prevail. So boldly speak the truth of God out loud to yourself and each other.
The Roller Coaster
Back to my roller coaster story. I didn’t bail out on the ride. With the encouragement of my friend, I took my seat on the famed Loch Ness Monster. The truth was that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were safely riding that coaster every day. Not only were they riding it, but they were also having a blast! That’s why the line was always so long. I can’t say it was my favorite ride. But I will say that to this day I enjoy a good coaster (ok, maybe not a really good one). And I can say that the lessons I’ve learned about overcoming fear have helped me countless times, from getting successful laser eye surgery to planting a church.
So, don’t live a life of fear. Live a life of faith. You can be an overcomer!