By Minister Judy Stack
What are you afraid of?
On our last Prayer Walk, there was a point where we passed a yard in which there was a puppy tied up in a fenced yard. It was noon, the sun was beating down, there was no shade, and puppy—though ecstatic to see us—was panting heavily and seemed to have no water available. One of our women found an empty container in the gutter, went into the yard, and filled the container with water from her bottle for the grateful puppy.
Another in our group expressed fear. What would happen if the owner was angry that she had gone into the yard? The water-giver was calm—fearlessly full of peace—about what she felt called to do to care for this creature of God’s.
I was reminded of the verse from Paul’s letter to Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you…for God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a disciplined mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
The gift that Paul is talking about specifically in that passage is the gift of the Spirit that allows Timothy (and us) to be led into what God is calling us to. This is a gift. But when God’s Spirit calls us into a way of serving and obedience to God, there is always the potential for fear.
It is in those times that we need to remember what kind of Spirit God has given us!
First of all….One that loves! The woman who gave water to the puppy was moved by love. When we are moved by genuine, loving, compassionate concern for others and God’s world, we are being moved by God’s Spirit!
Second, it is a Spirit that has power! When God calls us, God also enables us. God, through the Spirit empowers our work. We don’t depend on ourselves, but on God’s power at work within us.
Third, it is a Spirit that has a “disciplined mind.” Why do we need a disciplined mind?
Because whenever God’s Spirit moves us to act in love and power, there will be the temptation to become fearful. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of injury or pain or loss if we do what we know God’s Spirit is prompting us to do. We have to discipline our minds to say no to fear and yes to God’s ability to work through us.
I think about the story of Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:23-33). Peter at first is full of faith and begins walking out to Jesus on the water. But “when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and began to sink.” Peter began well, but he did not discipline his mind, and let fear creep in. But he did the right thing: he cried out “Jesus save me!” When fear comes at us—fear of the future, fear of suffering, fear of loneliness, fear of death—we cry out for God to fill us again with the power and love of the Holy Spirit!
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” None of us are yet completely perfect in love, but the more we are filled with love, the less room there is for fear. Love pushes fear out! And then God’s Spirit moves powerfully.
So what are you afraid of today?
“Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And what will be the result? “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).