When I was thirteen, I got my first real summer job. I became a master weed puller and white picket fence painter. My grooming came under the tutelage of a ninety-nine year old firecracker named Maude Brown. Her doubled-over frame moved slowly but capably with a cane. Surprise inspections of my work were frequent with Mrs. Brown. She was not easily pleased. I quickly learned that the approaching sound of clicking dentures meant judgment was coming my way. “You have to get the WHOLE root! Did you sand that board BEFORE you painted over it? Oh, God!” ( Mrs. Brown loved to take the Lord’s name in vain, especially when evaluating my work.) She spent most of her days reading newspapers in her tiny kitchen seated next to a large picture window. I was quite certain that it guaranteed I would never escape her watching eyes. Now, twenty-five years later, I think I feared the judgment of little old Maude Brown more than God himself.
Fear is deeply woven into the fabric of who we are as people living in a fallen world. Fear shames us and makes us feel guilty. Fear turns us into people pleasers willing to save face at any cost. Fear tightens our grip on the treasures in life we value most. And yet, God’s voice echoes throughout the pages of His living Word: Fear not! It is His most oft used command to his people.
This past fall, we pulled off a huge evangelistic event on our campus. Hundreds of Cru students participated. Plenty did not. When our evangelism team evaluated the outreach, we asked the question: “What kept you from fully participating in the mission?” We learned something insightful about our movement— fear was the number one issue sidelining us . Our little evangelism team decided that a bigger and better outreach was not the solution for the immediate future. We decided instead to first tackle our fears head-on.
For the past two months, our evangelism team has been reading and meditating on biblical passages involving fear. We’ve made some discoveries about fear. More importantly, we’ve made discoveries about ourselves. Here are a few:
We are now crafting an initiative that invites students to move away from an unhealthy fear of others and move toward a healthy fear of God. We want Jesus to sit on the throne of our lives, not the other saviors that often rule over us. Every person in our movement will be invited to identify a fear that is robbing them of hope. Over the period of a few weeks, we will move toward these fears as a community. We are expecting difficult conversations that will lead us to difficult places. We are expecting to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). We aren’t expecting to be the heroes. Our great hope is that a better hero and savior is already seated on His throne watching over us. We are counting on His perfect love to cast out our fears (I John 4:18).
So who or what is the functional ruler of your life? I doubt you’ll find a ninety nine year old granny like I did years ago, but don’t be surprised if you find a master other than Jesus who is robbing you of the hope your true Master desires for you.
*Photo courtesy of JD Hancock (Flickr Creative Commons).
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