The Real Church Women’s Ministry, Kindred, held their monthly gathering on Thursday, January 12, with Emily Burton teaching on the topic of Fearless. She asked and answered the big question, how do we live fearlessly in Christ? We know not all are able to join us at our gatherings, so we decided to share her talk. So, please enjoy this blog from Emily herself.
A couple weeks ago I was driving to Costco praying through what our topic for Kindred should be for our January gathering and a song came on the radio. I will be the first to admit I don’t normally listen to Christian radio stations, so this was definitely God-ordained! I really focused in on the lyrics and the word that kept jumping out was “Fearless.” The portion of the song that God amplified for me was the chorus:
“I wanna be fearless. No holding back. No backing down. Fearless! Because I believe You’re with me now. Bring on the unknown. Lead me and I’ll go. Come set me free God, I want to be Fearless!”
In that moment, I stopped and prayed asking God if this is a topic we need to discuss for Kindred. He made it pretty clear that this was the direction He was taking us starting the new year and that I was to be teaching on the topic.
As I begin to ask God what it meant to be fearless in Him, I continued to listen to this song and reread the lyrics. The song focuses on waking up to our everyday fears of not being enough or measuring up, a fear I know overtakes me some days. The thing that I enjoyed about this song is that the writer doesn’t become paralyzed in her fleshly fears, but she cries out to God for help. She sings out the truth found in 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
She stands on the truth she knows and gives her fears over to God to handle. This is what it means to be fearless in Christ, but this isn’t my fleshly nature. When I am functioning in the flesh, my will to rid myself of fear is greater than my will to follow God.
How do we live fearlessly in Christ?
1. We walk along the path GOD has established
When I hear the word fearless, I think of someone who lives life striving to THEIR dreams and doing everything in THEIR power to make it happen without letting anything hold them back. This may be someone who is willing to take risks and be challenged. These are all great attributes to have but when we have these attributes are absent of God, it can be detrimental. We can be fearless by the world’s standards by walking along the path we establish for ourselves, or we can live fearlessly in Christ walking along the path He has established.
When I am walking along the path I establish for myself, I try to grasp control in all areas of my life and leave God out of it. I become “fearless” in my own power by making my life busy with unnecessary things to keep my mind off the real fears.
When I am functioning fearlessly in the flesh, I rarely consult God about His plan. I’m confident that God is consistently putting people and opportunities in my path but I simply ignore them and continue on the path I have set for myself. When I’m too far down my own path, I miss God’s plans.
But what is the purpose of all the busyness and “fun” if I’m not serving my creator and living fearlessly for Him doing what he wants me to do? So what does it look like to walk the path God establishes for us?
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
—Psalms 40:1-2 (NLT)
This translation is beautifully illustrated as I imagine God pulling me out of the pit of despair or the pit of fear that I created with my own plans. As I’m walking along, the mud is still weighing me down but dripping off of me and my walk is not steady. God is right there with his arm around me helping me to walk steadily along that path He created for me.
Four years ago, my husband and I made the decision to be obedient and chose the path that God established for us. We moved our little family out here to Chicago. That was one of the scariest things for a young family to do. When we felt God calling us to uproot from California to help plant a church in Chicago, I was pregnant with my youngest and already had a 2 year old. In that moment, we had a decision to make…were we going to follow our own established path or God’s path?
We had a comfortable life, a house we were able to grow into, good jobs, a wonderful church community, we lived close to family and had a strong core group of friends. We decided not to be in bondage to the “things” and path we saw as “good” and fully submitted to God. We decided to follow God’s path and fearlessly trust Him however that looked.
Following God’s path is not normally my first action. I don’t know how many times I have missed God’s plans because I was too busy making my own. Pastor Nathan talked about that a couple weeks ago, when God invades our plans we have the choice to stick with our own plans or go with God’s plan.
When we choose God’s path it isn’t easy and it doesn’t look graceful. It isn’t smooth or free of fear, but it honors Him. As we walk His path He doesn’t leave our side.
2.We live as fearless witnesses
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
—2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NLT)
This is such a hard verse for me. It all sounds great to be a fearless witness, but I don’t like to be met with opposition. I’m a people pleaser and most of the time I care too much about what people think of me to the point where it totally immobilizes me.
God really convicted my heart as I read this and I must confess. I sit here in Chicago four years after a spiritual high and deep connection with God, because of the fearless step we took to uproot our family, and I ask what He wants from me…what he wants me to do. He has told me NUMEROUS times to be BOLD in my faith which has been a struggle my whole (adult) life.
I thought moving all the way to Chicago was enough. I’ve acted like this bold and fearless move was so courageous that I don’t need to do anything else. But what does 2 Timothy say? “Preach the Word of God, be prepared whether the time is favorable…For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”
Don’t you think that time is already here? It’s not coming, we’ve arrived. That is America, that is me, that is humans in entirety. I keep pushing off the call to be a bold witness because I’ve been so consumed with fear of what others think of me and given more weight to that lie, than caring about the impact of Christ on their lives and I’m sure that breaks God’s heart.
I don’t want moving to Chicago to be the last experience I have of living fearlessly for Christ, that should just be the beginning. I don’t want this huge step of faith I did four years ago to be the only story I tell for the next 25 years. So how are we supposed to do this?
3. We live in freedom from the bondage of fear
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
—Romans 8:14-17 (NIV)
It’s normally clear that the enemy is the author of fear, but have you ever stopped to think how much of our fear is self-created and could have been avoided? I realize the more I add to my life, more kids, more money, more stuff, more free time, more friends, more activities, and more responsibility, the more I feel I need to control these things and make sure I don’t lose them. But if we really took an inventory of our lives and the things we have and do, how much of it can we honestly say that God told us to do or have? I bet if we narrowed down the list to doing the things GOD actually called us to, the list would be very short. When I keep adding to my “stuff” I become a slave to that “stuff.”
I think I’m fearless when I think I have control…but in actuality the false sense of control is a facade that is completely wrapped in fear and bondage. When I have money in the bank, I’m fearless! When my kids have a good behavior week, I’m fearless! When my husband and I are on the same page and a united front, I’m fearless, nothing can stop us from doing great things.
But what about when there isn’t money in the bank and my kids are out of control? What about when my husband doesn’t love me the way I need to be loved, what happens when my friends aren’t there for me or don’t have time for me? I become immobilized. I’m scared, I’m grasping, I’m out of control, I’m hopeless, I’m defeated, I’m angry, I get crazy. I essentially lose my mind and try to huddle everything back together and regain control of those things.
You see the act of “doing more” actually distracts us from doing what we have been called to do, it also puts us in bondage to the world and our plans. When we submit to God’s plans for our lives it will simplify our lives and give us more freedom to be available to the things He gives us.
We don’t have to fill our lives with things to make us feel secure and rid ourselves of fear. We can live in the promise that we are God’s children, co-heirs with Christ and we no longer have to be slaves to fear, because although we share in his sufferings, we also share in his Glory.
4. Live fearlessly guided by the Spirit and proclaiming truth
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.
—John 16:13-15 (NIV)
If we are going to trust God fearlessly and be guided by his Spirit, we have to know His truth and proclaim it. His truth must replace our lies and fears. The Bible is flooded with scripture about fear and I have compiled a small list. These verses are great reminders to me that it doesn’t matter if people like me, or I am challenged, or I’m met with great opposition or hardship, God’s got me, if I trust him.
Fear can be paralyzing so live fearless in Christ!
As we just entered a new year, I want this to be my theme. Living life fearless for Christ. This will be uncomfortable, this will go against my human nature, but it will be fulfilling in unimaginable ways. It will break the bondage and give me freedom then lives will be changed. I pray you will enter 2017 fearlessly approaching God and His plan for your life as well!
“Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?”
- Are you walking along the path God has established for you? If not, ask God what fears are holding you back.
- What opportunities have you missed because of fear?
- Ask God how he wants you to jump into 2017 fearless in Him