A picture of an old woman’s face in an advertisement recently grabbed my attention. Her skin was dark and spotted from the sun. Deep wrinkles covered her face.
My eyes lingered on her picture because I thought she was beautiful, but not in the way the world views beauty. Her wrinkles revealed perseverance, and her eyes conveyed peace.
When I later looked at my stock of sunscreen and age-fighting creams, I realized I fear looking like the old woman. I know sunscreen does more than ward off wrinkles, but my vigilant application stems primarily from a fear of wrinkles and the vanity and pride that accompany my fear.
Fear is scary. My priest says it “corrodes your spirit.” In the Bible, the instruction God gives more frequently than any other is to not fear. My priest’s disturbingly vivid image and God’s crystal-clear direction make me wonder whether I act out of fear with more than sunscreen and whether it matters.
I do, and it does.
God calls us to seek his will and be obedient to him. But the potential criticism of the world, uncertainties, the possibility of failure and the anguish of facing my transgressions frighten me. They lurk in the worldly distractions I have allowed to grow around me like weeds.
Sometimes, I choose not to seek God’s will out of fear of what he might ask of me. When I do seek his will and it does not match mine, I am afraid. The fear can drive me to follow my will instead of God’s, freeze me into inaction or cause me to do good things for the wrong reasons.
Putting on sunscreen for the wrong reason may seem trivial. However, I do not recall the Bible ever describing in detail anyone’s face or wrinkles. God cares about what is in our hearts, and he asks us to do the same. If I fail to focus on his will in small matters like sunscreen, what will I do with significant issues?
Each time I act out of fear, my spirit corrodes. By definition, it is gnawed at, weakened and destroyed over time. In such a hollow state, I cannot become the person God is patiently waiting for me to be.
We can, however, choose courage instead of fear. God has plans for us, and we have been handpicked by him for this moment. He has promised us the provisions we need to accomplish his will, including the strength to overcome our worries and the patience to wait for his perfect timing.
God expects us to do the scary and hard things for his glory, and we can expect great things from God. When we focus on him and his will, we can move forward with courage, hoping in his promises instead of succumbing to our fears.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
What would you do for God today if you had no fear?
Nikki Frerker is one of the 13 writers for Faith Walk. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.