“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8
The fear of man has always been a severe struggle for me. I am not sure where my fear and insecurities came from. I have often tried to pinpoint a specific event from my childhood that may have caused it. Most people think I am shy, for the longest time I thought I was shy. Then I realized I loved people. I loved talking to them and getting to know all their weird quirks. So why am I so afraid of them? Why can I not follow my initial instinct to approach them and start a conversation with them? Instead I let this fear of what they will think of me take control of my life.
Fear of man is a huge battle I face, especially now as I am in Australia with the mission’s organization, YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I crave making an impact in people’s lives, sharing my story with them, and most of all, I intensely wish to share God with them. YWAM is a great opportunity to do all of this, as well as breaching my comfort zone and exploring a new land. But I am haunted by ghosts of fear and insecurities.
I start to panic, what will they think of me?
I consider myself a fairly open person. If one asks, I will tell anything. But after I have shared something the insecurities come. I start to panic, what they must think of me? Mentally I beat myself up for sharing so many personal things. The same thing happens when I put myself out there and talk to someone new. After the deed is done I am constantly in fear of what they must be thinking of me.
I begged God to send me home, send me to a safe place…
My fear is that these insecurities will come into play whilst I am doing God’s work. The first day I arrived in Australia and met a few of the girls who I would be studying with, I automatically became anxious of what they thought of me. I begged God to send me home, send me to a safe place where I do not have to face this toxic fear. Self doubt engulfed me. How am I to reach out to others when I cannot stop thinking about myself?
“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord your Maker…” Isaiah 51:12–13a
The fear of man is selfish. It is a point of view that is directly pointing at you. Your mind is consumed with yourself and what others think of you. Never do you stop and think, “What about God? How does he view me? Who does he want me to be?” As John Piper so genuinely put, “fear of man really is a mark of pride.” It is saying that we are relying on our own abilities. If we were relying fully on God we would be strengthened by the knowledge that we are only playing a role in his plan. He knows how everyone is going to respond to us and how the scenario will play out. Every conversation, every gesture, it is all part of his plan. Yes, listening to God and acting out in his plan is scary but God is in complete control.
When we let fear take over us, we are saying to God that his way is not good enough; his way will not work out. We let fear have the power that rightfully belongs to God. Piper states, “if you fear man, you have begun to deny the holiness, the worth of God and his Son Jesus.”
Fear has been a reoccurring theme for me so far at YWAM. I have known that I struggle with it and I was not terribly surprised when it affected me in my first couple days here. But I believe this is an issue that God wants me to overcome. He has been faithfully providing the strength for it.
I stood in awe struck amazement.
The wooden bunks in our rooms are full of notes, verses, and names from previous students. The first thing that stuck out to me on the wooden frame was a giant “X” in black permanent marker. As I drew closer to it I realized that under the “X” it says “Fear of Man”. It was painfully obvious that this bed was meant to be mine.
The next morning we had worship time with the entire YWAM base. I struggled to focus on God and praising Him. Too concerned with the new environment and new people, I missed the entire first song. When I finally prayed, asking God to redirect my mind onto him, I looked at the words on the screen. They read, “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” I stood in awe struck amazement. Pure amazement.
It was my excuse to ignore God when I heard him commanding me to do something that was out of my comfort zone
In lecture the next day, our speaker made a comment about giving everything to God. We hold so much back from God because we are afraid of what will happen when he takes it from us and begins to change us. I realized I did this with fear. I hold onto fear like a 3 year old holds onto their blanket. It was my security. It was my excuse to ignore God when I heard him commanding me to do something that was out of my comfort zone. That night we had a public meeting. During worship I blocked everything out and asked God to take all of my security blankets, to take all of me and replace it with who he created me to be. After time in prayer, I opened my eyes, tuned my ears back to the melody, and looked at the screen.
“All my fears fall to the floor. When perfect love made me whole. All my fears, they are no more because perfect love has made me bold.”
Fear is one of the core ways that Satan uses to drown us in darkness. Fear comes straight from a lie. So often we believe that lie, and we let fear take over. It begins to control us. We know longer listen to what God says, and we instead listen to fear.