Like most people I know, I’ve got my fair share of fears. But today it occurred to me that my struggles don’t stem from having fears.
My greatest struggles may stem from having the wrong fears.
I fear my family’s comfort will be shattered by sickness or death or disaster. I fear one day my income will not be able to keep up with my bills. I fear making a mistake from which I cannot recover. Even more, I fear my children making a mistake from which they cannot recover.
I fear that I will lead but no one will follow.
As much as we hate our fears, we are wise to acknowledge their value. Our fear of hunger gives urgency to our labor. Our fear of failure propels us beyond the status quo. Our fear of death squeezes brilliance out of our doctors and researchers. Our fear of isolation draws our gaze from our goals and onto our families.
Fear, properly channeled, produces greatness. As Mandela once famously said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
But what if we are conquering the wrong fears?
What if instead we were propelled by the fear of something other than the loss of our own comfort, our own power, our own influence? What if we feared a greater loss than that?
What if God gave us new fears?
What if I feared missing my calling to suffer as Jesus suffered before me?
What if I feared my own failure to make peace?
What if I feared brushing past God’s image in the person in front of me?
What if I feared my arrogance overpowering my humility?
What if I feared hating my enemies?
What if I feared gathering with other believers at the expense of being sent out?
What if I feared longing for anything more than I long for righteousness?
What if I feared the absence of God’s kingdom in my everyday life?
What if I feared the absence of God’s kingdom in the lives of everyone around me?
What kind of greatness might fears such as these produce?