Tag Archives: Fear

Stepping Up to the Plate

Read Mark 8:34-38

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

PlateWhen I was younger I was interested in various sports. Two of earlier sports I played were soccer and baseball. I wanted to be like all of the other kids and be good a playing sports. In fact, if I were to psychoanalyze myself, I would have to say that I was seeking recognition and validation from my peers, and people who were good at sports seemed to get plenty of that.

Baseball seemed like a good sport to play. It was considered an American pastime and they had all of those Baseball trading cards filled with sticks of bubble gum to lure kids into wanting to become a MLB star. So, naturally, I wanted to become a baseball player. I had heard stories of my uncle who had quite an arm and even pitched at the college level. My cousins played baseball and were quite good at it. So why not me?

I will never forget my first time at bat, when the ball came whizzing by me. It seemed so fast and so frightening. That thing was not soft, what if it hit me? I remember being filled with fear of being hit by that ball. I remember swinging half-heartedly because I was too terror-stricken that I might get hit.

Boy, did that turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I remember when that hard baseball came flying into my leg. Thwack!!! It stung something terribly. I remember the tears wanting to come out and my forcing them back in…after all, we’re told that big boys don’t cry…right? While I did finish out the season, as that was the rule my parents set before me anytime I signed up for something, that was my last season of baseball.

What would have happened had I sucked up the pain, pushed aside the fear, and gave baseball my all? Who really can tell. But I let the pain of the ball hitting me, and the fear that it would happen again, to keep me from giving it my all. I let fear and a little pain keep me from ever truly stepping up to the plate. Sure, I “stepped up to the plate”, but not really. The reality is that I always did it hesitatingly, and therefore, I never really stepped up to the plate at all.

While I am speaking in terms of baseball, I find that many people do this in there spiritual lives too. Many people simply do not step up to the plate because of one reason or the next. perhaps they have been burned before or they anticipate being burned. Perhaps they feel they’ve done their share and don’t need to step up any longer, or perhaps they always learned that ministry was “someone else’s call” and not theirs.

Whatever the reason, God is calling us to reevaluate ourselves and our committment to ministry. Are you stepping up to the plate, or is something holding you back. How far are you willing to go for your faith? How good is the news that you claim to believe in? Today’s challenge, and perhaps the challenge for this new year as a whole, is to step up to the plate, to rise up to the challenge, to answer YES to God’s call to be disciples (and even apostles) of the Good News…of God’s hope, healing, and wholeness. The new year is here, what is your response?

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” – Charles Stanley

PRAYER

Lord, I seek to renew and build upon my faith. Help me to see past my fears and doubts so that I may boldly step up to the plate and witness to your Good News of hope, healing and wholeness in all that I do. Amen.

From Fear to Faith

Read Matthew 14:23-33

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)

20090908_walking_on_water_lake_erie1When I was growing up, I knew from a very young age that I was called into ministry. At three years old, I used to use my mom and dad’s 8-track (yes…I said 8-track) cassette tower case as a make-shift pulpit. From that “pulpit” I would preach to my parents, “God tells you to lub one anudder!” From that point on, I kept growing in my faith and in my knowledge of the Bible. By the age of ten, the pastor of my church was retiring and he pulled me and my mom aside and gave my mom his entire set of commentary to hold on to for when I got older. “That boy is going to be a pastor and, since I don’t need these anymore, I would like him to have them.”

Yet, as bold as I was in my faith when I was young, things were about to change. Without getting into all of the details, which could fill up a book I am sure, I began to become a person who was filled with fear. For one, I had several close family members pass away and that caused me to fear what happens beyond this life. I never quite fit in at school and I feared not being accepted by my classmates. I never seemed to quite do as well as I wanted to in school and I began to fear the possibility of failure. There were many different varieties of fear that crept into me as I grew from boy to teenager to man. In the end, those fears put me on a decade long detour that took me far away from answering my call before I found my way back to it.

In the story of Jesus walking on the water, we see a bold Peter step out on to the water to meet his Lord. How boldly he put his feet out on that water, how boldly he took his first few steps of faith. Yet, as he began to look at the environment around him, things started to change. The wind was fierce, the waves were tall and crashing down around him, the lightning was flashing, and Peter’s bold faith began to melt away into fear. The more he feared, the more and more he began to sink down into the water.

How many of us live our daily lives in fear? How many of us go day to day fearing this or fearing that…holding back from doing things that we know we should be doing. How many of us, in the end, feel as if our entire purpose in life is sinking beneath the treacherous waves of our fear? We often mask our fears by justifying them in away that makes us feel better; however, the reality is that we find ourselves in paralysis, we find our lives have stagnated, because we simply have not let go of our fears.

Like he did with me and with Peter, Christ is reaching down to you right now. He is reaching out his hand waiting for you to clasp it. He is waiting to pull you up out of your fears and into the boldness of your faith. It was a leap of faith for me to finally say “yes” to God’s call and enter into a life of ministry, uncertain of where God will lead me. It was a leap fo faith for Peter to move beyond his fears to clasp Christ’s hand and be pulled back up to the surface of the waters.

God is calling you, the reader, as well! What is it that God is calling you to do? What purpose has God given you? And, most importantly, what is stopping you from doing it? God is calling you to move from fear to faith, from hopelessness to a world of hope and wonder! All you need to do is put your trust in God and take that first step forward. God has revealed, and will continue to reveal to you what your purpose is; however, you have to have move forward in faith before you will ever begin to live into it. Move from fear to faith and begin to TRULY LIVE.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith” – Søren Kierkegaard

PRAYER

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to move from fear to faith so that I may fulfill your purpose for me. Amen.