She was braver than I. Even though I was three years older, she enjoyed the ride while I sniffled as a spectator. I still remember the ride and the emotional turmoil. My parents reassured me there was nothing to fear. They spoke logically, “If your sister can ride this, then you have to know it is a very calm ride.” The wisdom of Solomon and the persuasion of Hushai could not convince me to get on the ride. I knew best. Fear was my teacher. My fear restrained me from that amusement until I was in high school.
Humanly speaking, fear will either motivate you or paralyze you. When your fear is properly placed it is a motivator. Fear can motivate you to rescue your child, fight for your life, or run to safety. When fear is misdirected it paralyzes you. It is dangerous. This type of fear is bondage (Hebrews 2:15; Romans 8:15). It paralyzes you from accessing complete peace and joy in your life.
Jeremiah 40-43 provides the details of a fearful group of people. Babylon had crushed Judah and set Gedaliah as the governor. Ishmael assassinated Gedaliah, so naturally, there is fear Babylon would return and eliminate everyone without any investigation. The people are trying to decide whether to stay in Judah or flee to Egypt. They ask Jeremiah for God’s instruction. “Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 42:5-6). For a moment, you are hopeful. Maybe God finally broke through their rebellious hearts! Then you see their response after Jeremiah urges them to stay and trust God. “Thou speakest falsely…So all the people, obeyed not the voice of the Lord, to dwell in the land of Judah” (Jeremiah 43:2-4). Just like I knew better as an elementary kid, we often “know better” than God. There was not a convincing argument in the world that would alter their heart. Fear was their teacher.
Whether it is the fear of Israel had before Goliath or the fear of the people in Jeremiah’s account, when we mislabel our cause for fear, we are in bondage. The people in Jeremiah would lose their national inheritance, the blessings of God, besides peace of being in the center of God’s will. Psalm 23:4 speaks of the terrifying valley of the shadow of death. It is interesting he only mentions the shadows. Satan, with his smoke and mirrors shows, seeks to paralyze you in fear. They are only shadows and all you need to conquer shadows is the Light, the Son of God.
Is God challenging you right now? Are you at a crossroads in your life? Don’t let the shadows paralyze you. Listen to the wisdom of God. Your hero, Jesus Christ, has already destroyed death and “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). You are more than a conqueror through Him (Romans 8:37). He has destroyed the Goliath of fear so you can follow Him completely, free from any fear.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)