I have a confession to make: I am terrified of mice. I did not know this about myself until I saw once recently and fully understood what it meant to be “frozen in fear”. My heart was beating fast and I was light-headed and all I wanted to do was get. out. of. that. room. but I couldn’t move! I was stuck.
Fear. It’s amazing how that one tiny, four-letter word is responsible for nightmares and sleepless nights and worry and, let’s be honest, probably a lot of avoidable injuries. Fear is why chances aren’t taken, goals aren’t reached, and lives aren’t lived to their full potential. Fear is often an incomparably adversary because, more often than not, safety is our biggest motivator.
I live in the world of preschoolers where imagination and possibility are never in short supply and where safety reigns supreme. These kids want to know they are safe. It’s why they cry when Mom or Dad leaves them. It’s why they are scared of thunderstorms and the dark. It’s why they hide behind their parents when they meet someone new. Their (very) active imagination gives them endless ideas on where Mommy and Daddy went without them that might be better than being with them. It makes the monsters in the dark very real because that chair really could be a monster in disguise waiting for the lights to go out to hurt them. You say it’s thunder but what if it’s not? What if it’s a giant living in the sky? The people that you are smiling at while trying to pry them away from your legs could be aliens from another planet, waiting to take them away.
(I spend a lot of time in imagination-land.)
As adults, we see their fears as trivial. We love them and want to help them, but we know there really is nothing to be afraid of. We don’t understand because we know that nothing’s hiding in the dark and that the thunder is really just the sound of lightning. But they don’t know that. They are too small, too wrapped up in the worlds they’ve created to understand that.
But here’s what is so cool about these little humans—they face their fears anyway. The kids I get the pleasure of working with are some of the bravest. They face that scary dark every night. (Granted they might need a night light or end up in Mom and Dad’s bed every once in a while, but they still do it.) They reach their hand out and make friends with that new person. They decide to have fun while Mommy and Daddy are gone, despite the fact that they may never come back. Every day, these kids are choosing bravery over fear. Why? Because they know the outcome and reward—the fun, the sweet dreams, the new friends—far outweigh any momentary fear they might feel. They choose risk over safety because they refuse to let fear hold them back. They might not articulate it like that, but we can see it in their actions: they jump off high places just for the chance they might fly; they say hello to complete strangers; they run faster, they push harder, they swing higher because once they push past the fear there is adventure and fun and joy. They are decorated with scraped knees and bruised heads and war stories that prove boldness won out. Ask any kid about their Bandaids and they will not tell you how scared they were but about how much fun they had getting those bumps and bruises! What they’re really saying?
It was worth it.
Our fears are a little bit bigger though, aren’t they? Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being wrong. Those are some big fears. When we’re in the middle of them, facing them, having to deal with them, it can seem overwhelming. But just like we know children have nothing to be afraid of, God whispers to us the same thing—even our biggest fears seem small to God. He already knows what He wants to do in our lives. He already knows how it’s all going to turn out. God knows that we don’t have to be afraid of failure or of rejection or being wrong or, really, of anything! 2 Timothy 1:7 says,
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Whoa. Let’s take a minute and just let that sink in. God did not give us a spirit of fear. So that fear that you’re feeling? It’s just Satan trying to steal your joy, steal your hope, and steal the purpose that God has placed in your heart. That’s all fear is—it’s nothing more than a scheme to keep us from doing what God has asked us to do.
So what is it you’re afraid of?
Maybe it’s a dream that has long been forgotten that God wants you to pick up again.
Maybe it’s a relationship that needs to be restored.
Maybe it’s a stranger you need to reach out to.
Let’s take a tip from our kids and push past the fear. Maybe the safest place we can be is out in the unknown where God has called us. Because when we realize that we are so incredibly loved by the God of the universe who created us and who wants great things for us, who has made a plan for our lives and will carry it out until it is finished, when we realize that He will never leave us or abandon us and He is more faithful than we could ever understand, when we realize that with God anything is possible and He can do much more than we can think or imagine, we are left with only one question: What do we have to lose?
That’s what we here at NewSpring are teaching our preschoolers: You can be brave because God will never leave you. God loves you. God made you. Jesus wants to be your friend forever. God has a plan for you. God can do the impossible. We tell these things to the kids over and over again because when they start believing them, fear no longer has any control. They can be exactly who God made them to be because they trust Him. They can do anything God asks them to do because they believe Him. They can step out in faith in even the scariest circumstances because they know that, even in the deepest waters, God is right there with them.
When we push past our fears, we experience the same things kids do: Adventure. Fun. Joy. We experience the kind of life God always intended us to have. I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life outside my comfort zone, outside of the boundaries of “safety” I have created for myself. I want to live a life where my faith is stretched and limits are pressed and I see God do things that only He can do.
There is always something to be afraid of—a big decision, a life-altering change, the unknown. But when we understand and begin believing that God made us and loves us and wants great things for us, when we begin to understand that perfect love casts out all fear then what else do we have to be afraid of?
If you’re quiet, and let yourself be still, you’ll hear the answer: