In the Grip of Fear
Have you ever felt held back from doing something you really wanted to do because of fear? I’ll be honest and say I have.
In Numbers 13 and 14 we have an example of the tragic and devastating consequences of lives yielded fear. Fear wreaks havoc. In fact in this story, unchecked fear grabbed hold of an entire community!
We pick up the story at the point where the Israelites have finally arrived within reach of their Promised Land. Moses sent twelve men including Joshua and Caleb, to spy out the land, take soil samples, see what the food sources were like and what sort of people lived there.
They returned with what was, at first, a glowing report of the most wonderful place to start their new life: “it is indeed a bountiful country, a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces” Numbers 13:27
However, the report rapidly started to turn negative as they begin to focus on the one problem they had encountered – the giants that lived there: “But …the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!”
“We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” Numbers 13:28,31b
I picture the spies in the land, talking among themselves in excited awe about the size of the fruit growing on the trees, the water gushing in the rivers, the lush vegetation after the harshness of the desert. But…. (this is a real “there’s a good news and bad news” story!) It’s a pity about those massive, scary looking warriors. Imagine what they could do to you if they got hold of you!
The Contagion of Fear
I wonder which one of the spies first let fear in?
Not that it matters – but I just wonder, because that’s how my mind works. They must have discussed their findings and reports among themselves at some point. Negative talk is contagious; as the spies prepared their reports to bring back, is that when fear got in and began to fear spread among them? All but Joshua and Caleb, that is.
And did those fearsome warriors in the land, become in the spies minds, even bigger and scarier? I find that fear has a way of doing that, because fear is a liar!
Their fear became greater than their initial excitement at how beautiful the new land was.
It’s true that there were huge, terrifying looking men in the land, but had the Lord their God not brought them this far? Did they really think He was going to lead them into the Promised Land only to be murdered?
By the time they got back to the camp with their report, it’s as if they couldn’t wait to get the words out and their fear was contagious!
Don’t you find negative talk and gossip is so often like that?
The fear began to spread throughout the entire camp, taking hold of the hearts of the people in its icy grip. Here’s what happened:
Numbers 13:32-14:2 :
“So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites”
Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.”
Only Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb remained steady, trusting God, and we know the rest of the story – as a consequence, that generation didn’t enter the promised land, and wandered the desert for 40 years. All because of Fear.
Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve
If I allow fear to have free reign in my life I’m choosing to believe fear’s propaganda over what God’s Word tells me. In other words, I’m revering fear in place of God – placing fear on God’s throne (in my mind) and saying “ok fear, you’re in charge”. That’s quite a sobering thought! Joshua 24:14-15 tells us:
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”
For us, as Christians, those “gods” are the things we worshipped before we knew Him – things we sometimes default to still.
God says to us “choose this day whom you will serve”
May my answer ever be, like that of Joshua, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ” (Joshua 24:14-15 )
We are told repeatedly throughout the Bible ”do not fear”. I don’t believe this means “don’t feel fear”. Every person on the planet has felt fear at some time – but it’s what we choose in those moments that matters.
I believe God says to us “Serve Me, not fear.“
We can’t stop fear from knocking at our door, but we don’t have to invite it in and give it a seat at the dinner table!
Free from Fear
When we obey that icy whisper of fear, we don’t behave as the people God created us be, we act out of character, contrary to what we know, deep down to be true. You and I are no longer fearful people! When we belong to Jesus Christ “We have the mind of Christ”, we have been set free from the tyranny of fear!
Christ lives in you – and you are no longer slave to fear.
There are lots of Biblical examples of ordinary people who let fear in and the result of that simple choice.
* Adam and Eve hid from God.
* The Israelites were were willing to go back into slavery.
* Abraham pretended his wife was his sister and was going to give her away.
* Elijah ran and hid.
* Peter denied Jesus.
Is fear holding you back today? It’s never, ever too late to evict that unwelcome visitor and shut the door firmly behind fear! Say to yourself “Choose this day whom you will serve….”
Some do not fear scriptures:
Here are just a few of the many, many scriptures where we are told very clearly not to fear. (Just place your finger on the reference link and it will take you through to the Bible Gateway app.)