FAITH OR FEAR?

TRACY KENNEDY

Do you live in Faith or Fear?

As children of God most of us at some point in our lives and sometimes even on a daily basis make the important choice to live in faith or in fear.

Again and Again in the bible God calls out to his people ---- “Fear not Do not be terrified you are mine and I am with you.”

Several weeks ago my brother and his youngest daughter were in town visiting. My niece at 16yrs old is very adventurous, she loves a thrill.  So you could say I got a l caught up in her excitement to seek adventure and she talked me into going to Eagle Canyon, just an hour outside of Thunder Bay it is home to two suspension bridges one being the largest in Canada extending 600 feet across the canyon and it hangs at the height of 152 feet above the canyon floor and I do mean just hangs.  I don’t like heights you could say I’m afraid of heights.  And that’s not all after walking across two suspension bridges.  There is only two ways back down walking or a ride on Canada’s longest zip line. The zip line consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. You are strapped in attached to the cable and the let go and gravity takes over.  Did I mention I don’t like heights?  Fear did wash over me as I stood at the first bridge my heart began to race, my palms got sweaty, my throat got dry and I was sure my shaky legs would carry me across.  I thought about not continuing perhaps turning around but I wanted to overcome the fear I wanted to experience the thrill.  I did manage to make it across both bridges, and what a view, and then there was zip line I never imagined myself standing on a tower looking down a canyon and waiting for someone who by the way didn’t look not much older then my son to say  3-2-1 go but I was choosing to overcome my fear.   And I did it.  And I loved it.  It was exhilarating. I would definitely do it again. 

I have since reflected on my experience at Eagle canyon that day. Fear can be a powerful emotion. Have I allowed fear to keep me from doing God’s will? Do I surrender all my fears to God and trust in him and his word?  What does the bible say about fear?

Mark 4 is a good example of how Jesus responded to the disciples fear.

But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat.  The disciples woke him up, shouting, teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?  When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves,

“Silence!  Be still!”  Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  As we consider this story we can see right away the cause of the excessive fear.    Consider the disciples in that boat at night facing a storm that seemed on the verge of swamping them.  They were probably miles from the nearest shore with no life preservers.  Any time your source of security is not strong enough to sustain you then fear takes over.  When Jesus was awakened in the middle of that stormy sea He asked, “Why are you --- Afraid?”  That might have seemed a foolish question to the disciples.  “Isn’t it obvious why we’re afraid?  We’re about to drown.” 

That being true Jesus knew they lacked faith.   They had not taken into account who it was that was with them in that storm.   When Jesus calmed the storm the disciples were reminded once again of something which was evident throughout the life of Jesus, something which He Himself claimed – He was no ordinary man He was the Son of God.

If we believe this and live by it the Truth is simply.  We need not fear when the storms of life come upon us --- because God is with us.  

There are so many things in our lives that cause us to fear.  There are so many things that cause us to ask the question.  Can I really trust God?  Cancer, loss of job, the economy, crime, relationships, rising gas prices, the downturn in the stock market, retirement, raising teenagers, the fear of not succeeding, of letting people down, taking care of aging parents, giving the sermon on Sunday morning and list goes on.                                                                                                                                                                                  

When we face the realities of our lives it is not irrational to experience or admit fear.  God wants us to know he loves us that he is with us and he will never forsake us. He wants us to acknowledge that the fear is too much for us and turn our fears over to him.  He wants us to live in faith.   Hebrews 11:1 says “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Chances are if you ve stepped onto an air plane or on cruise ship you might say you’ve had some faith.  Faith that the plane or ship can carry you safely to where you want to go.  Faith that those in charge know what they are doing and can handle any problems that might arise.  Faith that your suite case won’t end up in a forgotten luggage bin in Madagascar.

Actually faith begins every time you get out of bed in the morning you take the first steps toward a day filled with faith. You jump in the shower having faith the water heater stills works. You drive down the road, having faith that other drivers will keep their eyes and minds on the road, you stop and get your tim hortons coffee having faith your coffee will be hot. 

But Faith in God is both deeper and bigger than that “everyday” kind of faith.  In fact, it is probably better to think of riding on a plane or ship in terms of trust or hope instead of faith.  Faith in God is more than belief faith in God requires a relationship.

For our faith to grow we need to build a close personal relationship with God.  Bottom line faith grows when you spend time with God in pray and studying his word.   Once you start to really get to know God and learn how much he truly loves you a new kind of spiritual knowledge will begin to grow and your faith will start to increase, so when times of fear come your faith will sustain you.          

                                                       

We all know people of great faith who have not been healed, or go through great struggles in their live God never promised we would not suffer he promised he would be with us, love us and give us the strength we need to endure.  Enduring hardships and suffering throughout our Christian life can shape our character.

Well known Basketball coach Jimmy Valvano who later became a popular T.V analyst was loved by fans for his love and passion for live.   But most of all Jimmy will be remember for the courageous way he faced cancer.  Just weeks before he died at the age of 47 he was honored on national television.  In his remarks to that vast audience, he showed us his heart, a heart that was not terrorized by cancer or anything else.  Jimmy said “today I fight a different battle you see I have trouble walking and I have trouble standing for a long period of time.  Cancer has taken away a lot of my body.  But what cancer cannot touch is my mind, my heart and my soul.  I have faith in God and hope that things might get better for me.  But even if they don’t, I promise you this I will never give up.  I will never quit.  And if cancer gets me then I’ll just try my best to go to heaven and be the best coach they’ve ever seen up there.

Jimmy new the secret for overcoming fear, nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:39.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.

I would like to share with you one last story of fear, faith and hope.  Steven Curtis Chapman a Grammy and Dove award winning Christian recording artist family suffered an unthinkable tragedy. 

Chapmans five-year-old daughter was killed after being accidentally hit by her older brother in the driveway of their home. 

As you can imagine, it was a profoundly painful and difficult time for the entire family and changed their life forever.  Maria Sue had just celebrated her fifth birthday; she was the pride and joy of the Chapman family the youngest of 6 children.  One of 3 little girls they adopted from china a cause very close to their hearts.

As described by her family she was a firecracker who loved to sing and dance.  So when she was called home at such a young age the family was absolutely grief stricken.

Coping with the pain of Marie’s death and the anguish of his son who was at the wheel, the Chapman’s have been able to grieve through faith.

The decision to speak publicly about the accident was not an easy one.  The family has appeared on The Morning show, Larry King Live, The Early show and done numerous radio and newspaper interviews.  It is the families hope that these appearances will serve as a chance to proclaim to a watching world what they know and are deeply convinced of even in these difficult days The Gospel is true and faith in Christ is hope.  And they will one day be reunited with their precious Maria.

Their story is proof that God can take even what the enemy means to knock us down and use it to further his kingdom and bring his people closer.

Faith is when Gods word is enough--- faith recognizes Gods power---- faith clams Gods promises------ faith is the anticipation of Gods intervention.

 

Fear is the absence of faith.

I challenge all of us to choose a life of faith over a life of fear.

 

Heavenly Father

 

Thank you for setting us free from the power of fear.  Thank you that through our faith in you we can overcome any obstacle.  Please forgive us for any time that we allowed fear to block your work in our life.  Please help us to stand in faith from this day forward and live the life you have made available to us as a child of God. 

 

In Jesus name we pray

Amen