I still remember the fear, I had never done any evangelism before. Yet, here I was, a first year seminary student doing evangelism on the University of Memphis campus. I listened and learned as others in my group approached students hanging out after class. Then they said it was my turn. I was so afraid. I mean I knew God desired that I tell others about Him, I knew that these needed to hear the Good News. But, man was I afraid.
I could have gone running the other way or got my friend to take my place. Yet, if I had I would have missed out on what God had in store. For as I began to share the Gospel, the students listened respectively, but in the end basically said, thanks but no thanks and walked away. I was disappointed, but happy I had obeyed the Lord. But amazingly there was another girl I had not noticed standing nearby who had heard everything I had said. Before I knew what was happening, she approached me, and asked me to tell her what she needed to do to be saved! Awesome! Had I let my fear rule, I would have missed out.
Fast forward 8 years or so when I was sitting in my comfortable home in Tennessee. When the phone rang with a request from a professor that my husband and I pray about moving to Korea to teach in a seminary. Again, I could have let my fear of the unknown, the fear of raising my kids abroad, the fear of all the details that had to be worked out keep me from obedience. But, I would have missed two of the best years of my life, as our family served the Lord in South Korea.
Now, here I sit in my house in Nepal. Living here with my family for almost 3 years now. The unknowns once more could have kept me from this place. In fact I wrestled with God about bringing my kids to this faraway land. Yet, once more I can’t imagine the joys I would have missed had I let my fear keep me from here.
But this has not always been the case. I can’t begin to list the different times I have allowed fear to keep me from obedience. When my husband and I first married, we were on our way to China. We were almost through the process with our mission agency, ready to go to orientation and training when along came our first-born. One look at his tiny face, and my heart constricted in fear. No way was I taking this little one to China. Surely God would understand, surely my husband would understand. And sure, they did understand, but to this day I live with that regret. For I know now that the same God who has cared for us all these years, would have cared for us then. I know I missed out on seeing what God could have used us to accomplish for him. I know that our lives today would be far different, had I not allowed fear to stand in the way, but had embraced what God had.
Thankfully, God can always take our mistakes, take our fears and use them for His glory. I have no doubt He did this in our lives, but I know then and at other times I let fear keep me from experiencing what God had.
Even now there are unknowns of what the tomorrows hold. Easy for me to want the security of what makes sense. The security of the constant, the comfortable. Rather than setting aside fears, and letting God lead.
As I have been reading through Deuteronomy I have been amazed at this same theme. The Israelites whom God delivered from the hand of Pharoah as they walked across the Red Sea never knew the joy of living in the Promised Land. The missed out on the great things the Lord had because of their fear and rebellion against Him. In chapter 2 Moses repeats to the next generation, those who would enter into the Promised Land, “do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” He repeatedly told them this, because he knew their hearts. He had seen how fear and discouragement had kept the others from believing and trusting God. He had watched as each one died in the wilderness, missing out on what God had. So he tells them, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged!!! Trust God, believe Him!!
This same message rings true for each of us today. Of course what God ask of us will be different. Our lives are not meant to be compared. Yet, we each have a choice to make. Will we believe God, following Him despite our fears? Or will we allow our fears to cause us to miss out on what God intends. We can remain comfortable and safe or we can let go of our fears and trust God for the impossible.
Again I am thankful for how God can and does use our mistakes, our failures to accomplish His plans. I’m thankful that nothing is wasted. Yet, I long to trust Him more, believe Him for greater things,and watch in anticipation of what He can and will do for those who truly have their faith completely in Him.