Fear is an interesting thing.
In one corner you have fear represented by a demon (“the spirit of fear”) that deals in the paralysis of believers, and in the other corner you have a God-given emotion that keeps us from doing ill-advised things that limits or ends our opportunity for impact for the kingdom. On one hand we are plagued by the fear of raising financial support which keeps us from obedience to God’s leading toward cross-cultural ministry, and on the other hand we avoid local, unfiltered water because we know the effects on our bodies will cripple us in responding in obedience to that same leading.
So, what are you afraid of?
Which of the two sides do your driving fears live in? Don’t fool yourself. We are all driven by “fear,” though we may not call it that. One psychological profile, the Enneagram, helps people identify their driving fear along with the strengths of their personality type.
For the purpose of this blog I want to focus in on our negative fears – those that keep us from obedience, and specifically, obedience to God’s leading toward involvement in missions. Here are some examples:
“I know that God wants me to be a missionary but I don’t want to raise financial support.”
In my line of work, as a mobilizer for kingdom growth, this is the number one challenge I hear from people. Sometimes people add a spiritual veneer by saying that they don’t think it is biblical to raise money. If one thing is certain, it is that everyone’s path to obedience is unique to them. Not everyone has to raise financial support and for those who do, there is no consistency as to the amount they will need to raise. If I was to respond with a question, as Jesus often did, I might ask, “Do you believe God is able to provide whatever amount of money you may need?” All of us would reply “yes” to that question. So what stands in the gap between God asking you to go and God providing for you to go? Fear.
“I know God wants me to be a missionary, but I know he doesn’t want me to go as a single.”
This is a tough because on the one hand a single person can focus more completely on the task, but on the other hand, must do so alone. Facing cross-cultural adjustment and work is often more easily done in community. These types of conditions, ones we place on our obedience, are along a road we know we should not walk down. We can so easily see it in the lives of others but are often blind to our own conditions we place on God. My response question would be, “Are we limiting God’s ability to provide a partner for us by obeying him and changing our location?” Once again, all of us would respond, “of course not!” What is the foundational issue? Fear.
There are many more challenges raised in the road to missions like location, language, distance from family etc, but as we analyze each one, we will end up in the same place. We are afraid that God will require something of us that we are not willing to sacrifice. As I look at my own hesitations to obedience I hear echoes from the garden. “Did God really say that if you ate of this fruit you would die? Surely not!” Those first children were afraid that God was holding out on them, that there was something they should or could have that he was reserving only for himself.
At the very core, we doubt God’s love for us because if we truly understood and believed that he loved us, that belief would leave no room for fear.