Staying Fearless While in Relentless Pursuit
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Fear. It’s real. And as much as we like to quote 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind – there’s no denying that even as easily as these words roll off our tongues, fear can stop us dead in our tracks, paralyzing us. For some, the paralysis is temporary. For others, it’s ongoing. But why? How is it that this one emotion can have such a profound impact on our lives?
Asking the question, I can’t help but examine my own life and all the things I’ve ever feared: failure, not being good enough, walking away from certain relationships or engaging in new ones; being viewed as inferior because of my race or gender, having difficult conversations, being vulnerable, disappointing others and being disappointed, and success – just to name a few.
Seeing this list, the obvious question becomes, “What didn’t I fear?” My answer: failure, not being good enough, walking away from certain relationships or engaging in new ones; being viewed as inferior because of my race or gender; having difficult conversations, being vulnerable, disappointing others and being disappointed, and success.
Perhaps it seems strange, contradictory even, that I’m saying I didn’t fear everything I ever did fear. But is it really that strange? I once heard someone say: “The wrong perception can lead to the wrong reception.” Could it be that having the wrong perception about something I was pursuing – maybe that it was too difficult or beyond my area of expertise – led me to respond to the situation incorrectly – with fear of failure instead of with confidence that I could, in fact succeed? Absolutely!
Every time I gave in to fear, it was because my perception was off. I magnified everything I was contending with, from people (myself and my wants included), to situations – not because they truly were of great significance, but because I made them that way. I made the ordinary so big, bigger than the God whose throne is heaven, the earth His footstool.
The consequences of this: an overwhelming sense of fear that talked me into quitting and convinced me that there was no use in trying; fear that kept me in relationships longer than I needed to stay and hindered me from building new ones. This fear was rooted in assumptions and resulted in missed opportunities. It silenced me, kept me guarded, and it made me an imposter. It caused me to disappoint others and myself; and it caused me to hesitate in pursuing the things I know God has called me to do. This is what fear has cost me. What is it costing you?
Fear, while it will always exist, can be overcome, and overcoming it starts with controlling your perception. How do you do that?
1. Forget about yourself. When you think about it, fear is almost always about you. How will people look at you? What will they say about you? How will the situation affect you? It’s a self-centered emotion. But Jesus reminds us in Matthew 9:23 (AMP): If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow me. If relentlessly pursuing God is your goal, then the only concern you should have is fulfilling His will without fear of what you think might happen to you in the process.
Jesus came to earth already knowing His father’s will for His life, and He still carried out His assignment. If Jesus, already knowing with certainty how the Father's plan would personally affect Him, could fearlessly move forward without regard for his own feelings, how can you let the uncertainty of your own perceptions fill you with so much fear that it keeps you from following Christ, and pursuing His best for your life? It’s not about you.
2. Bring up the old stuff. There’s a good chance that what you fear right now, you’ve already successfully contended with in the past. So now when fear creeps in, your response should be to “dig in the crates” and pull out your memorials. After God stopped the waters of the Jordan River from flowing so the entire nation of Israel could cross over on dry ground, they set stones in the middle of the river as a reminder of what God had done. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel for ever. (Joshua 4:7 KJV).
Look back. What fears are you facing now that God has helped you overcome in the past? Do you remember how you felt when He caused you to triumph? Let these reminders fuel your faith, put your perceptions in check, and shut down your fears.
3. Face your fear. One way to serve notice on fear is to face it head on. Pray about it, make a firm decision and declare that you will not give in to it (Job 22:28), then speak to that thing…no, SLAY IT with the word of God. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). If you believe this, you can also believe that if you tell fear to “Go!” it must go.
And after all this, do something. Do what fear has tried to make you believe was too difficult and impossible. Do it with all confidence in the God who put you face to face with your situation; and do it with the understanding that what you’re facing is not about you, it’s about what God is trying to accomplish through you. Stay fearless and keep moving forward with relentless pursuit.