The last time I flirted with danger was when I decided against a double knot to tie my shoelace. I have a heart of gold – yellow to the core. Yet Christ died that I might rule. Yield to my old nature and I cower; yield to my Christ-bought nature and I conquer.
Fear will come. I can’t avoid it, but through Christ I need not bow to it. Victor or victim: it’s my decision.
The tragedy is that we are often enslaved by forces that are meant to be our slaves. Rather than being tyrannized by fear, we should rise up and let it serve us. Fear’s duty is to impel us to prayer. Deprived of this faithful servant we might foolishly expose ourselves to danger without activating God’s wall of safety.
Ensure your plans are in the will of God. Then list every fearful possibility. Pray through each point for as long as it takes to muster the faith that God has taken control. Now you have divine protection, the highest conceivable security. Fear has done its work. Bid it farewell. Like a naughty puppy, fear may still tag along, but ignore it. Reciting the fear-crushing promises of Scripture, fix your eyes on the goal and stride toward it.
Waiting for fear to fade before advancing is like Peter waiting for the lake to evaporate before stepping out of the boat. Faith is the defeat of fear – not usually by fear’s removal, but by moving us to proceed despite fear’s yelps.
Where acceptable, take small steps. If the torment is intense, the support of experienced counselors can be valuable. Be prayerful about your choice of help, however. Unwise counselors can wound.
When the pressure is on, there are just two types of people: those who cling to Christ and those who run away. Heaven’s heroes are natural weaklings who are willing to let Christ make them supernaturally strong.
All of heaven is on red alert when you follow Father’s orders. Help is a prayer away. Heaven’s resources – infinitely more than you will ever require – are available the instant you need them.a As you march forward in obedience success is certain.
How would you like to amass so much wealth that you could educate 122,683 children; buy 282,000 Bibles and one and a half million New Testaments; give away 112 million books, pamphlets and tracts; support hundreds of missionaries; and feed, clothe and house 10,000 children from the time they were orphaned until becoming independent? George Müller did. And he achieved this not by sweat and business acumen, not by garage sales and mailing lists, not by borrowing or asking for help, but solely by faith and prayer. He refused to let his needs be known to anyone but God. Fifty times in just one two-year period there were insufficient funds to see them through the day, yet what was needed always came in time.152
Trans World Radio, with an annual budget of little more than $10,000, faced a half-million-dollar down payment, to be paid in $83,000 installments every second month. On the deadline day for the second installment they were $13,000 short. $5,000 arrived that morning, but nothing more. The director shuffled to the bank with the knotted stomach of schoolboy sent to the principal’s office. Before he reached the bank a worker handed him an unexpected mail delivery containing another $5,000. Missed by just $3,000! A knife to the stomach would have been less painful. As he slumped in the seat of the bank president’s office, contemplating the hefty penalty for not meeting a payment, money was wired to the TWR account – $3,000.
On the day the next payment was due, after every piece of mail had been scoured they were $1,500 short. Not another cent arrived. Most of the donations were in German marks and they had checked the exchange rate the day before. They re-checked. The money was now worth $1,500 more.
And the miracles kept coming.153
Lack of money never stymies God’s work, but materialism does. This disease of the mind comes in two deadly strains. One is loving luxury more than God – television reception is atrocious in the Irian Jayan jungles, so I refuse to go. I’ve caught the other strain if money gives me a greater feeling of security than having the Creator of the Universe as my Father – I know my cold-hearted, money-grubbing boss will pay me every week, but I’m not so sure about God, so I squelch his leading to leave my job.
As a law-abiding Jew, the rich young ruler was, by common Christian standards, remarkably liberal in his giving. His contemporaries may have regarded as obligatory the giving of up to thirty per cent of one’s income.154 At the very minimum this man must have been offering expensive animal sacrifices in addition to his ten per cent. Yet he was still so entangled in the deadly web of materialism that not even the lure of eternal life could entice him to break free. He could not obtain salvation for himself, let alone live a profitable life for others. He was poor indeed.a
A Look Within
I once spent an entire year rejoicing in God. I was sure I would never see depression again. Then I lowered my gaze from the beauty of Christ to my own imperfections. Depression returned. So I try to avoid self-examination. Occasionally, however, peering into the dingy world within can be helpful.
Perhaps part of me – the part that gets its way most often – wants me to fail. That seems incredible. Success is a delicious daydream. But maybe cowering on the fringes of my consciousness is a fear that success would lose its savor if it stepped into reality. When I succeed I shrink from mollycoddling my ego lest it become inflamed with the puss of pride. The only time it gets the comfort and attention it craves is when I fail. I hold my ego close and whisper in its ear, ‘You poor dear.’
Mediocrity has been such a part of my life that though I imagine I hate it, it brings with it the warmth of familiarity.
The things we tell ourselves can become powerful forces. If, for instance, I tell myself that no one likes me, I will lack the confidence to mix freely. My aloofness will turn people away and constantly affirm my belief that no one likes me. The result? A seriously hampered ministry.
Often there is just one thing holding us back. I know someone with wisdom in almost every area. Many people could benefit from his wisdom, but what he lacks is the wisdom to know when and how to share his insights. He comes across as an interfering know-all, turning away the very people he longs to help. The thing keeping us in a wilderness of lost opportunities may be easily correctable, but it can become such a part of our lives that we are oblivious to it. Blindness to our weaknesses is one of several reasons for holding Father’s hand when we look within.
If prayer sheds no light, however, we must leave these murky depths lest we begin to assist the Accuser in his attempts to torment us. Drop the accusations and mind-dredging, but keep praying in faith for the strength and wisdom to triumphantly hug success.