Since my husband was young, his family had a tradition of escaping the fickle spring New England weather to venture south for warmth and rest. His parents have continued this rhythm as empty nesters, and we’ve been fortunate to join them this spring. The sand between my toes and the space to reflect feels especially sweet after the interruptions of Covid.
In the quiet morning hours, I look out at the ocean. The rhythmic crash of waves beckons me out of myself. These patterns remind me of the power and constancy of God. The tides haven’t skipped a beat amid the chaos of the past two years. Unfazed by it all, they greet me once again with their beauty as a quiet reminder of the One who doesn’t change.
These steady thoughts of truth weren’t with me as I boarded the plane in Boston. My recent weeks carried unsteady feelings surrounding one recurring question about my life, what’s next? After a couple of years of uncertainty, I want to see the future. I long for certainty, and I know I’m not alone. Many of my recent conversations over coffee, planning for local ministry, zoom calls with other churches, and even quick run-ins at the grocery store carry the same theme—what’s next?
Just below the surface of my question is a spirit of fear—a gripping, persistent fear. Things we once relied on failed us. The sense of control we used to have has left. There’s a deeper pause as we look ahead because we carry the knowledge and experience that we’re not invincible.
How do we move ahead when fear threatens to paralyze us?
The enemy uses fear to focus our energy inward. Self-focus is how fear grows. Over time, it weakens our witness and ability to walk faithfully. It distorts our perspective and takes us out of the game by eroding our capacity to see and hear God. As the Bible reminds us, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers in this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
This reality shouldn’t scare us, but move us to fight fear with the blessed assurance of the One to whom we belong. In Christ, we do not have a “spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). We’re limited. This is a difficult but beautiful truth when we submit to it. We like to believe we can do everything and be all things to everyone. But that lie threatens our dependence on God. Click To Tweet
Scripture says not to fear because the Lord is my light and salvation; the stronghold of my life (Psalm 27:1). His love anchors us to trust in him alone. Yet, the waves of fear still overwhelm us. They arrest us in fleeting thoughts or persistent taunting. How do we face fear with faith? Consider three practices that form us for eternity as we actively look to Christ.
Embrace Your Limits
We’re limited. This is a difficult but beautiful truth when we submit to it. We like to believe we can do everything and be all things to everyone. But that lie threatens our dependence on God. Our struggle echoes back to the original sin. We wrestle as Eve did in Genesis 3, asking, “Did God actually say?”
Yet, with the power of the Spirit, we can counter those lies with truth (John 16:13). We have his power to express our weakness and surrender to his sovereignty. In recognizing our limits, we display our trust and show that his ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9).
Increase Your Inputs
Every moment we’re formed by a barrage of information and cultural influences counter to the gospel. In times of uncertainty, we abandon the spiritual disciplines and habits of counter-formation when they’re most needed. Scripture reading and memorization are potent tools for fighting fear.
Whether you allow the Word to wash over you in listening to large chunks of the Bible or choose to meditate on a pointed passage that addresses you specifically, make those inputs a regular part of your days. In recognizing our limits, we display our trust and show that his ways are higher than ours. Click To Tweet
Invite Others In
Isolation is a product of self-protection when we’re unsure or overwhelmed. When we’re afraid, we need to lean into our community. They are a means of grace. Fear loses its power as we speak the truth out loud and walk in the light with others (1 John 1:7). In vulnerability, we allow others to witness our experiences and share our burdens. In these moments, we see the thoughts we carry aren’t just ours. God gives us one another as tangible expressions of his love. His kindness is apparent as he cares for us personally and collectively.
The truth is we never know what comes next. The uncertainty we feel is an opportunity to direct us back to God. He’s promised that fear doesn’t have the last word. Like the sea and its reliable tides, God is even more consistent and unchangeable. He anchors our soul (Heb. 6:19) and Christ goes before us and is with us. When the waves of fear threaten you, lean into what is true. Be grounded in the finished work of Christ. Our union with him is secure and whatever the future holds, that union cannot be shaken. That is good news for unsteady feet. Click To Tweet
When the waves of fear threaten you, lean into what is true. Be grounded in the finished work of Christ. Our union with him is secure and whatever the future holds, that union cannot be shaken. That is good news for unsteady feet.