One question has been a theme of several conversations lately. What would we do—live, be, accomplish, or even attempt—if we did not fear? What would we do as leaders?
I heard a song on my radio app this morning, “To the Very End” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit Band. The lyrics include, “You can have all my fears, God. . . . I know You’re with me to the very end.”
The Christmas echo still rings in my ear: Emmanuel, God with us. How does the reality of Christ’s presence change how we live? How does it change how we lead?
Even the Great Commission is empowered by God with us through Jesus’ promised presence. Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b NIV). If Jesus’ presence with us truly makes a difference, then what is it that seems to hold us back? What do we fear? Is it conflict, pain, loss, or failure of some kind? What is it for you?
Whatever it is, be encouraged. God knows. God knows we are afraid. How many times do the angels start their message with “Do not fear”? God knew we would fear. Perhaps that is why we are given so many reasons not to fear, or at least to not be overcome with fear—to not let it stop us.
Let’s let the truth of God’s Word wash over us.
One of the keys to overcoming fear is to focus, not on the fear but on the perfect love of God. How many ways are we experiencing God’s love right now? Spending time with Him, growing in our understanding of His love, changes everything. His love calls us to walk with Him, to live in Him, to learn from Him, to let Him take care of us and guide us in the way of His peace.
Another key to overcoming fear is to rest with purpose, to shift our perspective of control with vision for eternity. We need rest for our souls. Life with Christ isn’t full of fear; it’s full of rest. Even in the battles and storms of life, we can have peace. We can rest.
I am so thankful that Jesus really did say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30 NIV).
Some words stand out to me from these verses:
As we take steps into 2017, let’s take steps to come to Jesus, to take His yoke and learn from Him. We will find rest for our souls. His perfect love will cast out our fear. And we will be ready to attempt even more for His kingdom. Our souls will rest in Him forever.
As believers, we are taught to think about the future and eternity. It doesn’t take us out of our everyday reality; it transforms it. When we think properly about the future, we can think differently about today. We make decisions differently. We have different attitudes. We live differently in the light of a very real eternity. We have nothing eternal to lose but everything to gain.
What could we attempt, as God leads, this year, without fear?
How could we, as God leads, change our world?
What attitudes could be different now as we reflect on a very real eternity?
As we see those around us, and think about their eternity as well, how could we position ourselves more for eternal conversations?
All this, without fear.
All this, without fear, together.
In Matthew 11, Jesus is speaking to a group. He refers to souls, plural. There is something about living out these truths together, as a community. As leaders, let’s seek God this month over how we can come, take, learn, and find—together. A leader doesn’t have all the answers. She is just willing to live in such a way that others can grow and serve together with her. May we find great grace this month as we trust God to guide us to overcome any areas of fear, know His love more, and reach out in significant ways.
Laura Harper is ministry consultant at WMU. She loves her family, coffee, chocolate, and all things missions.
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