Before I met my husband, I was preparing to make an important decision that would deeply impact my future. Someone in my life cautioned me about taking a path I was considering. They warned me that this particular choice could harm me. They listed a bunch of bad things that could happen to me as a result.
This person had some pretty strong opinions about the choice I should make, but I felt God was leading me in another direction. The problem was that the more I listened to their predictions of disaster, the more fear I felt—and the more I doubted my ability to make a good decision. That’s when I sought counsel from a very godly friend who told me not to make any decision out of fear. Then she said something that has stuck with me ever since: “Wherever there is fear, there is control.”
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
A light bulb went on. That’s when it struck me that the desire of fear isn’t just to cause us to feel some uncomfortable emotion. The desire of fear is to control our very lives. The desire of fear is to put us in emotional bondage. The desire of fear us to keep us from doing God’s will.
I also realized that because fear wants to control, fear is pushy. I don’t mean that fear is always obvious and in your face. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s subtle and it creeps up on you. But it’s pushy because it pushes people to go when they should stay. It pushes people to stay when they should go. It pushes people to avoid rather than confront, or to run rather than remain. Fear is pushy. Wherever there is fear, there is control.
One of the ways fear tries to control us is through imagination, because fear thrives on what is imagined. Fear wants you to dwell on the horrible, awful things that could happen to you if you do this or that, or if another person does this or that to you, or if this or that happens in your future. Through imaginations fear attempts to control, because imaginations manipulate emotions. Maybe that’s why you’ve heard the acronym for fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is nothing but a lion without teeth.
This doesn’t mean that some fear isn’t healthy. Healthy fear keeps you from walking down a dark alley or driving faster than you should. Unhealthy fear is when you are worried, scared, or shaken by what you face, rather than trusting God. Thankfully, the Lord has an answer for fear, love. Remember, there is no imagination that is greater than God’s good will toward you. His love is greater than anything you could possibly fear or that could possibly happen to you.
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . .” Believing God’s love gives us courage. It doesn’t just give us courage when we stand before Him after we die (v. 17) but every day of our lives as we face uncertainties and questions, changes and challenges on the road of life and making decisions about the future. God’s love gives us courage because we know He has our back. There is nowhere we can go, there is no decision we can make, there is no failure we can experience, or any problem we will encounter that God won’t be there to help.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).