Willing, But Afraid

Do you panic when asked to . . .

give your testimony in front of a group,
share the Gospel with someone,
pray out loud in a group,
teach a Bible lesson,
or just generally be the focus of attention?

If you have said yes to any of these, you probably would agree that it isn’t just a little nervousness that comes over you. It’s a heart-stopping, throat-grabbing terror! I know. And this fear intensifies as guilt closes in with echoes of Romans 7; we know what we want to do and do not do it. There was a time in the early years of my walk with Christ that I would have said yes to some of the fears on this list. My anguished soul was tormented with questions: What would I do if I was called on to come up front in church to give my testimony, or invited to a leaders’ meeting and be asked to speak, or . . . well, you can fill in the blank. There were many tears shed before the Lord about my weakness. I wanted to be a faithful witness for Him. I prayed for His help, for transformation of my desperate, fearful heart. And in time, He answered!

When our new life in Christ begins, we really don’t know all the work He intends to do in us. But with growth in our understanding of the Bible, we soon learn He has promised to transform “the partakers of His grace,” into His own likeness. He has said He will complete that good work in us (Philippians 1:6). Pause here and let that promise settle down and find its home in your heart right now. God accomplishes this transformation through His word and the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We know this sanctifying work will not be completed until we see Jesus face to face, yet He is gracious and merciful to give us victories now. Together with Philippians 1:6, God is faithful to keep the treasure trove of promises he has given us in His word. These promises are anchors for our souls when the waves of panic are threatening to shipwreck our usefulness and testimony for Christ.

Bring your fears to your heavenly Father in prayer. Talk with Him specifically about them one by one. Worship Him, declaring your faith in Christ and what He has promised. Arm yourself with “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Begin now with memorizing scripture promises (a few are listed below). Meditate on them when you go to bed at night and when you rise in the morning. Preach them to yourself throughout the day.

Promise #1 – He has chosen you from the beginning to be conformed to Jesus. It is His work in you.

“For those whom he foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified” Romans 8:29-30.

Promise #2 – Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have a new identity in   Him. We have a new life, a new heart, new desires, new motives. He will make you self-forgetting and a God-glorifying witness for Him.

“Set our mind on things above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” Colossians 3:3-4.

Promise #3 – You belong to Jesus. Nothing can ever snatch you from His hand or separate you from His love.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” I Corinthians 6:19-20.

“neither life nor death, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39.

Promise #4 – God is for you and is with you. Apart from Him you can do nothing.

“The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9.

“Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5.

Listen to the voice of Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid. Do not despair. I am with you and will not forsake you. You are mine!”

Lastly, I will share a gift with you that God gave me to conquer my fear of speaking in front of groups. Maybe it will help you, too. When I was asked to give my testimony to a large group that very first time so many years ago, God placed a picture in my mind of my being on the platform, facing the congregation. Jesus stood beside me, put His arm around my shoulder, and whispered, “Speak for Me. Tell them about Me. I am with you.” Fear departed and, in His power, I was able to share the gospel.

Know that He is right there with you, too. And He will win the battle for you. Trust Him. No matter how halting or weak your first step may be, take it and see how faithful He is. You will, by the Spirit, be putting to death your sinful flesh, and holding to the victory Christ has won for you.