Overcoming Fear

As part of our summer holiday, my wife, my two daughters and I walked up the beautiful Peak District hill, Mam Tor. It’s no Everest, and when we reached the peak there were young children happily marauding around the triangulation point.

As for me: my palms were sweating, I felt dizzy; my heart leapt every time my daughters strayed too far from the path. I gripped my wife’s hand, flinching a little as people brushed past me. I felt myself relax only when we had safely completed our descent a couple of miles later at the end of the ridge path.

There’s nothing particularly rational about my fear of heights. Unless I was to take some deliberate and reckless course of action, I’m perfectly safe walking up and down a hill. But sometimes fear grips us even when we know it has no place in our minds. Sometimes fear overwhelms us when we face difficult circumstances. Will my mum survive her cancer treatment? Will I have a job in a year’s time? Will my daughter ever be able to live an independent life?

Fear has a lot to do with lies. They’re the sort of lies that are laced with a little truth, the sort of lies that take the worst case scenario and magnify it until all other options seem unlikely. Fear can literally be paralysing.

In the Bible, we learn that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). What is perfect love? It’s the love that came from God; the love that made itself human, experienced every emotion that we feel, “was tempted in every way, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). It’s the love that wept in his favourite garden, that cried out for another way to restore relationship with us, but that stared fear and death in the face, and “for the joy set before him, endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). It’s the love that was ultimately victorious over all the wrong things we’ve ever done, and ever will do. It’s the love that has robbed death of its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).

I do still struggle with feelings of fear. There aren’t too many opportunities to test my fear of heights in an area as low-lying as West Norfolk, but there are plenty of situations in life that rattle me. Nevertheless, I’m learning to take these to God, to kill fear with His love, to trust Him in all circumstances and to be strengthened by him. No matter what fear is gripping you, God is there, and there are churches across the town full of people, who may have their own fears, but who are learning to trust God in everything.

Andy King
The Gateway Church

Faith looks up

psalm46v10Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up.
These were apt words from Nicky Gumbel on the “Bible in One Year’ app on the day the US presidential election was announced. Wherever you stand politically it has been a tumultuous year politically both here and across the pond.

The 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall also occurred last week. I remember the night it happened well. Interestingly it was all triggered from a prayer meeting in East Berlin (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/24661333) . The turn of that decade was a time of hope and destiny politically. A pop song of the time expressed it well “Right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be. Right here, right now watching the world wake up from history.” To me, the political upheaval of 1989 seems far more positive in tone and nature than what we are currently experiencing in 2016.

So those words of Nicky Gumbel are key to know how to think and speak about what is going with Trump and Brexit. Don’t let regret, fear or worry take your eyes from looking up. The Psalmist wrote “Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed… He who sits in heaven laughs, the Lord holds them in derision.”

Another Psalm (46) reminds us of three truths that will help to keep us looking up.

Firstly, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way. In that Psalm every mention of disaster, political or natural, is accompanied by a declaration that nevertheless God is still large and in charge.

Secondly, the Psalmist talks of “a river whose streams make the glad the city of God, the holy of habitation of the Most High” – that speaks of the church, whose mission of redemption and reconciliation of people to God and to each other will make people “glad.” The good news of Jesus Christ sorts out racism, hate, bigotry, despair and the politics of fear.

The third is the exhortation to “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Despite rumours to the contrary, God is sovereign and in control. His purpose is to have a people for himself who know Him, love Him and experience forgiveness, healing and freedom. As that happens more and more, He will be exalted among the nations and the whole earth. Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up. Put your trust in the Lord!

Andy Moyle
The Gateway Church

Jesus take away our fear

14984-NPXMJ1Jesus takes away our fear
Don’t get me wrong, some fear is healthy and good for us. The fear of getting burnt if we touch a hot stove is a healthy fear. But some fears are totally irrational. I took my wife to Paris when were students to ask her to marry me. My plan was to go on one knee on first stage the Eiffel Tower, but my irrational fear of heights prevented me going up the steps (we were too poor for the lift!) It had to be on the Arc D’Triomphe, which is ironically only 7m less high!
I tried my hand at abseiling once – poised on the edge knees knocking with fear, the instructor told me FEAR stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. It was safe, the two ropes were capable of holding a car, so my expectation they would snap was false. The answer to some irrational fears – the ones based on False expectations is a bit of thinking to realise they are not real.
The American Presidential campaign is being run on the politics of fear. Pandering to fear gets votes. I guess for most of us Brits, our main fear is Donald Trump getting in – what a buffoon!
The fear of stepping out can be debilitating. Are you held back by fear? As Joyce Meyer writes “Are there any areas in your life that are being stifled because of fear? Satan is always going to bring fear against us at various times. It’s one of his major weapons—not a cap gun, but a cannon.”
The answer to these fears is a relationship with God. “Do not be afraid” is one of the most common commands in the Bible. It’s a command backed up with a promise “Fear not, for I am with you.” Knowing God personally means we can face fears. The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts it like this “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”
If you want to get rid of fear in your life – why not pray to Jesus and ask Him to take it from you.

Andy Moyle
The Gateway Church