Faith Exercised And Released moves us through fear with faith.
Fear or F.E.A.R?
I won’t lie and pretend I’m never afraid. But I also recognize that sometimes I pretend fear isn’t bossing me to within an inch of my life when it really is. Fear—it’s a trigger word. Some people say that all fear lies and we shouldn’t listen to it. Some people say we need to explore it to uncover deep truths about our souls. I say fear is an emotion that shows something about us. But what it shows is personal and unique to each of us.
I’ve listened to lies that found their roots in fear, and I ended up bound and gagged.
I’ve traveled down rabbit holes that led me further away from my goals in my effort to explore my fears.
But this is what I’m learning: Fear polarizes. It polarizes our relationships, goals, and dreams. It’s used for good and for bad in our lives. It either paralyzes us or stimulates us. And it’s possible to move through fear with faith.
And in my writing life, I’m learning to live with the tension fear brings. Fear of approval or disapproval. Success or failure. Opinions and missed opportunities. The need for attention. These fears sometimes drive my choices. So instead of eradicating fear from my life, I invite it into a conversation. I explore why I’m feeling afraid and if there are any areas of non-truths that I’m listening to that God wants to redeem. Sometimes He uses my fear to reveal areas where the need for man’s approval drives me to paralysis. And other times, my fear reveals my inability to be consistent. But each time fear rises within me, God reveals something new to move me through fear with faith and propel me further down this writing path.
Somewhere along the way of loving to write and needing it to explore what I’m thinking, feeling, and experiencing, it turned into second-guessing whether my words would be clear, received, and powerful. I’ve needed to process the types of writing I do. The words for just me and God, and the words for me and others. They’re not the same. Sometimes the message is, but I can’t invite others into my words when I’m writing for God alone.
It’s like I’m standing on a stage, performing solo. The lights are dim, the seats silhouetted, and one person fills a seat. Art needs an artist and an audience. When I open up my journal, I am the artist and God is the audience. And when I write for others, God becomes the artist through me, and I become the audience as I watch him move in hearts.
Sometimes fear causes me to stumble because I allow my insecurities and ego too much power in my life. I’m afraid of what people think, and I’m afraid of pride. These combined cause my pen to freeze. Then I’m neither the artist nor the art. I’m immobile. Ink drying in my pen. Paper blank. Curser blinking. Unable to move through fear with faith.
But God whispers words of encouragement to try again despite my insecurities and to trust him to reveal pride. And so it becomes more about listening to His still small voice than being afraid.
I read a verse the other day. It stopped me in my tracks and held me close before it let me move on. It was a verse I felt spoke directly to my angst for writing.
“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV)
I can let fear hold me back or let Faith Exercised And Released move me through fear with faith. (F.E.A.R)
Writing is a work produced by faith. It’s our faith that God is calling us to write about. It prompts us to study, learn the craft, meet other writers, submit, and face rejection. Writers must walk by faith and not by sight for a time before they see how their words affect other people. Sometimes we walk by faith for years before we know how God used our obedience in someone else’s life. And we may never ever know. Will our faith sustain us? Or will fear demoralize us?
If we believe Romans 8:28 to be true, then we believe that the good God brings from bad are also used to encourage others. We’re to tell the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives so that the present and future know of His goodness. Work. Write. Live. Your work in sharing God’s good news encourages faith in others. It becomes a healing cycle of grace and faith. We move through fear with faith.
Faith exercised is remembering that farmers plant, runners train, and soldiers follow. Farmer’s plant without a guarantee of harvest. Runners train, understanding that they might never make it to the winner’s circle. And soldiers soldier on because they trust and respect their commanding officer.
We exercise our faith as writers when we write knowing that our words may not make it to many readers. We challenge our faith when we put in the work, time, and money to develop our craft. Our faith grows strong as we trust and obey the One who called us to this journey. When we remember the God who calls us will not abandon the work of His hands, we practice faith.
We live with the beautiful contradiction of both/and. As writers, we know both fear and triumph. Fear about our submission’s rejection and triumph when an editor accepts our query. We know both fear and faith. Doubt and belief. Many times our contradictory emotions live in the both/and state. And that’s okay.
The tension of both/and provides us opportunities to grow as writers. To lay aside our egos and overcome our insecurities. The both/and place enables us to live in the assurance of God’s call to write, knowing that we may only reach a few. The “and” helps move us through fear with faith.
Something happens inside us when we act on our beliefs. We read about faith and fear, but faith becomes real and almost tangible once we act on it. James writes that faith without deeds is dead. He is not talking about working our way into heaven, but about acting on the faith we have in Jesus Christ. In our writing life, this might look like taking risks. It might mean that we’re more afraid of missing an opportunity than failing.
Sometimes we need to knock on doors and turn door knobs. At times they’ll be locked, and other times there will be no answer. But we don’t know until we try. Stepping out in faith requires us to take baby steps toward completing our goals or stepping off a cliff, trusting God that He’s going to provide safe passage.
Fear can paralyze or it can release us. If we revisit 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and apply this to our writing life, we can see that our work of writing is produced by faith. Faith in a good God to turn our darkest hours into the brightest rays of hope for others. Faith that God leads and guides our steps, and the belief that God uses our stories to minister to others.
We need to remember the moments of faith that produced our work. Because obstacles take on many forms. We fight discouragement and doubt. We walk obscurity’s road. Doors open and then they close. But still we keep walking, working, and writing. We act on faith and release our work and trust God to direct it where he wills. We move through fear with faith.When I open up my journal, I am the artist and God is the audience. And when I write for others, God becomes the artist through me, and I become the audience as I watch him move in hearts. So instead of eradicating fear from our lives, invite it into a conversation. Explore why we're feeling afraid. Listen to that God wants to redeem. Faith becomes tangible once we act on it.
More on Soul Care
What I Want You to Know About Rejection-Part One
What I Want You to Know About Rejection-Part Two