That is the premise of Max Lucado's latest book, Fearless. With his characteristic blend of whimsy, wide-eyed wonder, and biblical wisdom, Max tackles the fears that too often limit--and sometimes paralyze--us, and more so, it seems, with every passing day. His first chapter, "Why Are We Afraid," hits the nail on the head when it says, "Fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is." Fear overtakes us when our focus shifts and our faith slips.
Each of the chapters (after the first) skillfully shines the light of God's Word on a different fear: the fear of not mattering, the fear of running out, the fear of what's next, etc. For example, writing about the fear of not mattering, Lucado writes,
Fear of insignificance creates the result it dreads, arrives at the destination it tries to avoid, facilitates the scenario it disdains. If a basketball player stands at the foul line reperating, "I'll never make the shot, I'll never make the shot," guess what? He'll never make the shot. If you pass your days mumbling, "I'll never make a difference; I'm not worth anything," guess what? You will be sentencing yourself to a life of gloom without parole.In the wonderful chapter on the fear of "worst-case scenarios," Lucado points to Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion and says,
Even more, you are disagreeing with God. Questioning his judgment. Second-guessing his taste. According to him you were "skillfully wrought" (Ps. 139:15). You were "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14). He can't stop thinking about you! If you could count his thoughts of you, "they would be more in number than the sand" (Ps. 139:18).
It's our duty to pull back the curtains, to expose our fears, each and every one. Like vampires, they can't stand the sunlight. Financial fears, relationship fears, professional fears, safety fears--call them out in prayer. Drag them out by the hand of your mind, and make them stand before God and take their comeuppance!That's good stuff.
Jesus made his fears public. He "offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death" (Heb. 5:7 NIV). He prayed loudly enough to be heard and recorded and he begged his community of friends to pray with him.
His prayer in the garden becomes, for Christians, a picture of the church in action--a place where fears can be verbalized, pronounced, stripped down, and denounced; an escape from the "wordless darkness" of suppressed frights. A healthy church is where our fears go to die. We pierce them through with Scripture, psalms of celebration and lament. We melt them in the sunlight of confession. We extinguish them with the waterfall of worship, choosing to gaze at God, not our dreads.
Like all of Lucado's books, Fearless is a pleasure and an encouragement to read. If you cooperate, it will help you obey the frequent command of Christ: "Fear not."