Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10, NKJV
I've been afraid of birds most of my life. A colorful parakeet didn't stay on its perch in the pet store when I was little, and it resulted in a traumatic event. My subsequent fear of birds became a "fun" fact my friends often learned about me.
A few years ago, God showed me something profound and humbling about this little fear I carried. I was comfortable being defined by it. Being scared of birds made me different and unique, and it came with a funny story to tell.
In a twisted form of pride, my fear of birds became part of my identity, and it stood in the way of total freedom. That is why I ended up facing my fear of birds and entering a lorikeet cage at the zoo a few summers ago.
I had to surrender everything - including my fear - to God.
And while I initially planned to write encouragement about facing our fears and engaging our faith when we're afraid, I'm compelled to take it a different direction. I'm challenging us, myself included, with this thought for the week: are we finding a false identity in what we're afraid of, and is our fear actually a source of pride?
Fear is such a natural emotion for us, we often feel justified to carry it. There's a reason most angels in the Bible are recorded saying "don't be afraid" when humans saw them - we can't help but be scared sometimes. Whether it's the invisible monsters under our bed, or the real monster showing up as a lump in the x-ray machine, we're going to face many reasons for anxiety in this life. But, God says "do not fear" for a reason. He's big enough to walk us through it.
The real question is - are we willing to give up our fear? Do we trust Him?
Where's our hearts when we go into Walmart stores this week or when we put our kids on the bus? When we step into that doctor's office, or sit across from our manager's desk, are we secure in our identity as children of God? Or, are we terrified because of the potentially bad things that could happen? Is our mind full of anxious "what ifs" thoughts, and our conversations drenched in worry? Or, are we walking in confidence that no matter what - God is working for our good. He alone is trustworthy.
I wanted to feel emotionally free, yet fear stood in the way. That's why I entered the lorikeet cage - because I needed to let go of the pride that held me back... the pride that said God's not bigger than my fear of birds. Birds are still a bit scary to me, I don't like them. But if you ask me for my opinion on birds these days, you're going to hear not about my fear - but my freedom story.
Prayer: Father, help me not only identify my fears, but show me if I've built up any pride or a false identity with them. Help me face what scares me, and give me courage and comfort as I surrender.