I have a question! I have heard pastors say that, when facing a decision, you will know the answer based on the peace that you have. As in, God will give you peace about the right answer. The other options won't feel "peaceful" but the correct one will.
I've also heard pastors say that sometimes we have to "do it afraid." As in, if God is urging us to do something, we might have to do it while still somewhat afraid. This confuses me.
I know we are not to operate in a spirit of fear. We can feel some fear, but still step out in faith, casting that fear down and moving forward anyways.
So these statements seem contradictory to me. Am I waiting for peace, or am I doing it afraid?
And can I be peaceful, but still have some fear? Is that the part I'm missing? That a person could have peace from God, but still feel a little scared? It doesn't seem like one could be both.
This has been bugging me for a while. Thanks for opening your blog for questions.
Photo Credit: Rolf Hicker
Dear Stuck Between Fear and a Peace Place,
Since I'm a bottom-of-the-line type of gal, I'll start with the simple answer - It's Both. Let me explain how.
Peace and fear are both just emotions if they are not grounded in the source of the Holy Spirit. If your peace is from the Spirit, you will see Scriptural peace-confirmation (it helps to ask Him for it), and also peace- confirmation from wise, trusted spiritual influencers (it helps to ask them, too). If you have an emotional, come-and-go warm and fuzzy feeling, that's not the peace I'm talking about, and I don't think your pastor would be either. So, yes - on big decisions in life especially, take the time to pray and seek God's heart - you will find His hand if you are seeking His heart. And wait on Him to answer with His peace, not yours. [Yours is really a question of how to hear from God, methinks.]
Don't let fear stop you. Fear is not from God, unless it is of God - that reverent respect that says He could end your life, or give you discipline, or bless you with favor at any moment, and that IS all His prerogative. If you are afraid of anything else though, the source of that fear is either 1) your own deceptive emotions or 2) straight from the devil as a scheme to deter you from God's good plan. The Bible has over 366 references to either "do not fear" or "take courage" - one for every day of the year, if you need! God does not give the fear, so we should not make decisions based on it. Indeed, after receiving a portion of peace and courage, you will many times face a measure of fear. We may be resolved to go and obey, only to be met with fear; in which case- we must remember the peace and confirmation we received from God and wise leaders, and pull that peace back around us like a scarf or cloak as we strip off the lie of fear, casting it into the the devil's face. We press on despite of the occurrence of emotional fear, or "do it afraid" as your pastor said. My rebuttal to that phrase may be, however, that you don't have to give in to that fear. It's possible to throw it off, and do it with confidence, boldness, courage - but only in the power of the Holy Spirit. It IS possible to "do it confident," which I believe would be God's first choice for you. He wants to prepare you to face fear as you go. The way to do that is to be well-armed to face fear's attacks, and also to become an expert Sword-wielder, bringing the truth of His Word to fight the devil's lies. Fear is one of Satan's most effective lies over humanity, so he uses it a lot - to deter, distract, disengage, and delineate God's call and purpose for our lives. We must be aware of fear as a possibility when we obey Him, but He has not left us unprepared, or unable! Fear doesn't have to be our constant companion.
In my own personal experience, I have faced this very thing often. And I even face it now - as I write vulnerable words into the cyber-madness! What will you say in return? ... What will he or she think of me? ... What if those I respect disagree? ... Do I really have the voice to be proclaiming all that I do? ... Most of my fear stems from the sin of insecurity and/or my enemy's deceitful attacks on my identity. The truth which I must continually learn to wield with greater effectiveness is that of my identity in Him. When I declare the truth of my security and acceptance in His love, when I speak the same things of me that Jesus does, I am strong enough to shake off the fear and walk in the peace God gives. (I have an entire notebook full of verses that speak of my identity in Christ, which I refer to often when the ugly lies of insecurity come back to haunt me) It's not easy for me either, but I HAVE found success over my familiar lies in proclaiming His truth over my life. It is a choice, but He has never been anything but faithful to help me when I need it most. He loves me that much.
And He loves you that much too! And so, Dear Soon-to-be Confident One - take heart! Jesus Christ will give you the peace you need to pursue all that He has for you. He knows your heart will face fear also, and He has made provision for you to fight it, finding the fear of the LORD a beautiful fear that casts out all others.
So, to recap:
1. Pray - ask for direction, Biblical confirmation, and peace from God.
2. Also, seek wisdom from spiritual leaders you trust to confirm the direction and dreams you're pursuing. Ask, "Do you think God could want me to do this? Why or why not, according to your knowledge of the Bible?"
4. Recall the peace you received and take hold of it again.
5. Prepare to face fear, and learn how to fight back with courage.
A few Scriptures that came to mind this week as I was praying about my answer:
" Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel." -Philippians 4:6-8 (CEV)
"Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9 (Amp)
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." -Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." -Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)
" For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLV)
"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." -John 14:27 (NLT)
I truly, sincerely hope this helps you today. Here's how I pray for you (oh that you were here and I could take your hand!):
Lord, today would You speak Your peace and confidence into the life of this dear brother or sister? I ask You to bring peace like only You can - not just a warm emotion, but TRUE PEACE that passes our understanding. God, would You help this person to fight back with the pure strength of Your True Word when the devil sends darts of fear-fire into his or her mind. I thank You today that You have not left us defenseless, but that You are always faithful to keep Your promise to confirm Your calling and desires with peace. May Your kingdom come in this person's life today, God. As only You can do. In the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ ... Amen
And so how about you? What questions do you have, Dear Heart? I'd love the privilege of helping you to discern God and His Word too.
In these posts, I'd like to field a question from you. If you send me your questions, I will answer with His love and truth, and straight from His Word. You can email it to me, and sign it like a "Dear Abby" signature. I vow to keep your name out of the post, even if I see it in your email address. Here's an example:
Dear Robyn -
Sometimes I hear other people talking about God's "presence". What exactly do they mean? How can I tell whether or not I've been in His presence?
Feeling Out of the LoopAnd then I'll answer with a post here under the label a little bird told me. I promise to shine His love through my words, and offer His Word and wisdom in my answer.
So - how about it? Will you flood my inbox? Send me an email today with your question - about life, God, the Bible ... anything. (Okay, that last one was slightly scary, but I'm believing Him for answers, so I'll be alright.) Of course I reserve the right to answer you in a private email as opposed to here in the nest if for any reason God guides me to do that.
So, right now, before you forget - won't you write me? email@example.com [Please insert "a little bird told me" in the subject line so I can flag it.] I'll be answering your questions every Saturday!
I can't wait to hear from you ...