In the UK it’s estimated that around 10 million people suffer from a phobia of some sort. The most common phobias include arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces and public places). Me? Well it has yet to be diagnosed but I’m pretty sure I suffer from clavicaphobia. That is, fear of collar bones. Sounds crazy right? It probably is.
Everyone in the world has been afraid of something at some point in his or her life. It might not be something as crazy as collarbones, but it’s usually enough to make us feel uncomfortable, anxious, enough to send our heart rate through the roof. Or perhaps it’s an underlying fear of something in the future. Something you might be able to avoid during the day but can’t stop thinking about when you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling at 2am. Ever been there? Me too.
Being afraid isn’t abnormal – it’s hardwired into us so that we steer clear of danger. From an evolutionary point of view fear is a massive helping hand in keeping us alive. But being fearful of something when we are constantly in the presence of God seems a little bizarre, don’t you think? After all, the Bible tells us that “the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Surely that means we have no reason to be afraid?
Kelly Clarkson (yep, the pop singer) was once quoted saying “God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress.” But speaking honestly, I’m not sure that’s true. Yes, you will be dealt more problems than you alone could ever take on. But you’re not supposed to take it all on by yourself. That’s why we’re told to trust in God in times of fear. God will never give you more than HE can handle. Through Him, you can do anything. Pretty empowering stuff, right?
He doesn’t throw you into the deep end just to stand there and watch you drown; he’s there at the sides ready to help.
Taking on your fears is a little like learning to swim. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘being thrown into the deep end’. Maybe you felt like that once. But I like to think of God as the swimming instructor. He doesn’t throw you into the deep end just to stand there and watch you drown; he’s there at the sides ready to help. So you’re in the pool, you’re thrashing your arms around trying to keep your head above water, and what’s the first thing you do? Call out. You cry out that you need help, and he’s there. He stands at the side of the swimming pool, shouting instructions at you, calmly gesturing the motions you need to swim yourself back to the shallow end.
This year, as Open Doors celebrates its 60th anniversary, we are reminded of Brother Andrew’s leap of faith. He stepped out into the unknown, relying solely on God, and embraced his fears. Brother Andrew jumped into the deep end of the pool and he called out to God.
And the results? Well, here we are 60 years later. Imagine what could be happening 60 years from now if you just took that small but fearful step outside of your comfort zone, knowing that all the while God is with you, holding your hand. “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work with us.” (Ephesians 3:20). God’s power is infinite, and it’s in you, so you’ve got no reason to be afraid.