From the Pulpit: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

May 3, 2014 

Sheryl Sandburg is the COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”

In the book, Sandburg talks about how fear holds us back from achieving our goals and taking part in opportunities that will stretch us and grow us. She writes that at Facebook, they work hard to create a culture where people are encouraged to face their fears and take risks. They have posters all around the office that reinforce this attitude.

Her favorite poster, written in bright red letters, says, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Fear happens to each of us every single day, and it looks different for each of us. Fear can look like worry. Fear is sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for the biopsy results. Or pacing the floor after midnight when your teenager has not made it home yet.

Fear can look like locked doors and drawn curtains. Or a suspicious glance over the shoulder. Fear is refusing to have a conversation with someone whose views are different from yours.

Fear can take the form of anger, like when we divert our eyes from the eyes of someone who has hurt us. Fear is hoarding what we have so that we don’t run out.

Fear is not trying out for the school chorus, though you really love to sing. Fear is refusing to be yourself because someone might not like you.

Fear can even be spiritual. You fear death because you can’t be certain about what‘s on the other side.

You busy yourself because you fear what God might say to you in the silence.

Fear is not always bad. We should lock our doors and buckle our seatbelts. There is much wisdom in taking appropriate caution. The problem comes when we let our fear take over.

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, we read promise after promise of God’s presence in the midst of our fear:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:6).

“Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul writes, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

And from Jesus himself: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Easter has come! Jesus is alive, and his resurrection is our assurance that God wins in the end.

We can choose to let fear dictate how we lead our lives. Or we can give our fears over to the spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit is with us, working to grow us out of our fear and into God’s peace.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Only God knows the boundless possibilities!

The Rev. Julie Long is associate pastor and minister of children and families at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon.

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