Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Transforming Despair to Hope

Charles Durhig’s book, The Power of Habit, tells of a woman named Lisa Allen who is a thirty-four year old graphic designer who doesn’t smoke or drink. She is a runner, debt free, and has recently finished her master’s degree.

A few years before, her life was a mess. She was sixty pounds overweight, a chain smoker, and a heavy drinker. She could not hold down a job or finish school. She was a failure in every area of life. Now she stands before researchers at the National Institute of Health, who are desperate to learn how this woman changed from a failure to a success.

It started when her husband left her.  Without a job and hopeless, she made a rash decision to visit Egypt on her charge card for one last holiday.

She had no goals, no hopes, and no motivation. She was desperate to do something, but did not know what to do. While riding a bus to the pyramids a thought struck her. Could she walk this trip, instead of taking a bus? There was no particular thought behind it—it just came to her, and she resolved to do it. She realized that if she tried now, it would probably kill her. She decided to come back in a year’s time and make the walk. 

First, she gave up cigarettes. It was hard, but she did it. Then she decided to take up walking around town, and eventually jogging, then running. Her life changed, one habit at a time. Every time she changed one habit, she got the courage to change another. With each victory, she gave herself a precious gift—hope. 

Hope transforms us. With it, we can do anything, sustain any action and endure any suffering. Without it, all we do is an exercise in futility. If our hope returns, then our life begins anew.

Paul says in Thessalonians, “I do not want you to suffer as those who have no hope.” Many of us suffer without hope. We may have hope for heaven, but we have no hope for today or tomorrow. We’ve been handed a fortune cookie that says, “This is as good as it’s going to get,” and we believe it.  We are miserable because we have no hope.

Christianity is all about hope. In fact, it is about three hopes. Our first hope is for heaven –we will be with Jesus when we die and live forever. Our second hope is in a better world--Christ’s eventual victory in the end times over darkness, a new heaven and new earth. Our third hope is to become more like Christ here while we live. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” In this life we are becoming like Jesus in His love, passion, and joy.

The first two hopes are important, but in our daily lives it is this third hope that gets us through this life. If we are dying, or facing terrible persecutions, then we really need those first two hopes. But while all Christians have hope for heaven, many have no personal hope.  

Can we blame them?  If our faith is just an insurance policy against hell, then why should we pay attention to it? Do you read your life insurance or fire insurance policies, and rejoice in your deliverance from future disasters? Does it bring you daily joy to know you’re covered against collision, or do you take it for granted? If all Jesus does is give us a future in heaven, then why should we come here week after week and remember it?  If that’s all the hope we have, then our faith provides nothing in this life, but freedom from worry about the next life. Hope doesn’t help us daily unless it is personal, practical, and daily. 

Jesus came to give us hope not just for heaven, but for this life as well. Many Christians believe that they are stuck in their sins, problems, depression and fear. But if we believe in the transformative power of Christ, then there is nothing in our lives that cannot change. 

Let’s look at a passage about hope in this world. Mark 9: 31-40.

This story happened after Jesus, Peter, James, and John had been on the Mount of Transfiguration. When they returned, they found the other nine disciples losing an arguing with the local scribes. It started when a local man took his son to them to be delivered from a demon who got hold of him, and threw him into fire and water. The disciples couldn’t cast it out. The Pharisees used it as proof that Jesus was a fraud. The townspeople were coming to their side. 

Isn’t this happening today? We say that Jesus is a savior, healer, and deliverer. But where’s the evidence? When we show them our own lives, do they see victory? Why should an unbeliever look at the average churchman and think there is anything special about our message?

Jesus immediately recognizes the problem as unbelief. There was not enough belief in this town, or in the disciples. Because there was not healing the first time, they assumed they never would be, and turned on the disciples and the message. They prayed for the boy, and nothing happened, so they assumed that nothing would happen. 

Jesus says the whole generation refuses to believe!

Is our generation any better?  Listen to how we talk about prayer. We talk about holiness, but never get any better. Many Christians are filled with unbelief and don’t even know it. When our lives are filled with anxiety and worry, what do we do but doubt?  When we show courage and hopefulness in hard times we are demonstrating hopefulness. 

This father of the boy expressed his sense of helplessness in verses 21-22.

Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."

The father implies that the boy’s whole life was a failure from childhood. We are all born with flaws and handicaps. But none of us are so broken that we cannot be better. God can help us overcome even our flaws from birth. 

He also indicates that they could do nothing about it. “It often casts him into fire and water, to destroy him.” If this were your child, would you let him near fire or water? They had all but given up on helping him. Unbelief does not just rob us of a cure—it robs us from trying to find a cure. What’s the point of wasting time and money trying to solve an unsolvable problem? Fortunately, they were still looking for help from Jesus. 

Finally he says to Jesus, “If you can do anything.”  The doctors and religious leaders could do nothing. Now he had come to Jesus’ disciples and they could do nothing. He must have thought he had been abandoned by God Himself.

Jesus’ responded. “If you can! All things are possible for he who believes.”  Not only is something possible—everything is possible! 

Here we must stop and ask an important question. Does Jesus mean all things are possible for those who believe in general, or for those who believe in God?  Is it belief itself or belief in God that makes all things possible? Belief in anything has great power, as we often hear in our culture. Positive thinking works, up to a point. But it has two serious flaws.

First, positive thinking is often pushed too far, making it into a kind of magic. Whenever I hear someone say, “You can achieve anything if you just believe hard enough,” I want to scream, “Okay then--fly!” We all have limitations.

The second problem with positive thinking is that it does work, but for the wrong goals. It is only by God’s mercy that we do not achieve our dreams.  People can succeed, but at the cost of their souls. Legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson is said to have literally sold his soul to the Devil for the power to play the blues. Entertainers such as James Dean, Tupac Shakur, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, and many others gained their dreams and destroyed their lives. Be careful what you hope for, because it can destroy you. But when we believe in God, and we hope in His glory He grants us the desires of our heart. 

At this point, the father cried, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Belief is not the total absence of doubt, nor is doubt the total absence of belief. We do both all the time. Our brains are like congress—there’s always a vocal minority. But we choose to act upon faith rather than doubt.

Hope is choosing to act upon belief, not doubt. If we don’t think we can lose weight we won’t seriously diet. If we don’t think prayer will work we won’t pray. If we never try, we won’t succeed. But if we trust God and keep trusting, He will come through.

Jesus healed the boy, but the disciples were still perplexed. How come Jesus could do it, but they could not?  Jesus answered that this kind of demon comes out only with much prayer.

Why does it make a difference how long you pray?  I confess I do not always know the answer, but there are some things that must be true before we can realize our hopes.

First, we must know what we want.
What we really want is not always obvious. Sometimes the things we think we want are the very things that stand in the way of our ultimate happiness. 

Second, we give up what we don’t need.  
We’re double-minded—wanting too many things at once. When people asked to be His disciples, Jesus told them to leave their families, sell everything, and neglect everything else. They were not willing to take Jesus over other good things. We need to consider the implications of what we want before Jesus gives it.

Third, we must do whatever it takes. 
Jesus gave specific instructions to those He healed. If they did not do it, they did not get the healing. God doesn’t heal us all the same way. Sometimes it takes surgery. Other times, we just have to ask for help. It usually begins with admitting that you have a problem. If we aren’t willing to do what it takes, we won’t be healed.

All this requires much prayer time. Prayer is simply a conversation with God, where we sort out our real reasons and motivations, what healing will require, and whether we are willing to pay the price.  Real prayer is a battle, not a cake walk.  In this battle, the most dangerous opponent is our own unwillingness to believe.

Hope is patience.  The two Hebrew words that are translated “hope” in the Bible. One--yachal--literally means “to wait.” The other—tiqvah--literally means a rope--something we hold while we are waiting for God to pull us up. It’s easy to have hope if wait just a moment, but it’s hard to hold on when the day grows long and our hands get tired. That’s when hope is all important. God’s blessings require holding on. He will give us what we ask, but we must keep holding on. There are greater blessings for you than you can possibly imagine, but you must have hope. Don’t give up. Hope for something greater, and you can have it. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Anxiety: The Divided Heart

Last week we began a series about the difference between the life we are promised in the Scriptures as Christians and the actual lives we live.  God has promised us abundant, joyful, fulfilling lives, yet we live in poverty, misery, and worry.

God has not let us down. The gift we have been given has been stolen from us. Jesus gave us this promise in John 10:10 

“The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  I come that you might have life, and have it in abundance.” 

Who are these thieves that rob us of our joy?  We are looking at seven—the “seven sinister sisters”--fear, anxiety, hopelessness, laziness, jealousy, perfectionism, and individualism. 

This week we are talking about anxiety.  Fear and anxiety are not the same thing. They are both emotions and they both come about due to a threat, but beyond that, their similarity ends. 

Let me illustrate the difference. Suppose you are working in your backyard one day, and you see a rattlesnake. Your first reaction ought to be fear. Your glands shoot adrenalin into your system. Your heart starts pumping, your palms get sweaty, and panic starts to take over. You explode with energy, and you either kill it or run. Psychologists call this the “fight or flight” response.  Either kill it or get out of its way.  Fear in this case could save your life.

But the next day, you have to return to the backyard and finish your work. As you do, your glands give you another shot of adrenalin. You are afraid, but there is nothing before you, only the memory of the snake. What if there’s another rattler?  How do you know there’s not? What precautions should you take to prevent it? Your body experiences the same physical responses you felt when you saw the snake, but now there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t kill a snake that isn’t there, and you can’t run from a snake you can’t see. So you go around the yard thinking about the snake that only might be there. Even when you finish your work, and go in the house you still think about that snake.

What you feel the next day may seem like fear, but it is not. It is anxiety. Fear has a definite object. Anxiety is generalized and vague. Fear prompts us to act. Anxiety keeps us from acting.  Fear is a good motivator as long as it has a direct motivation, and fear is only for a short time. But anxiety is a de-motivator, and can last for a lifetime.  Fear protects and preserves. Anxiety destroys and unnerves.

Christian psychologist Dr. Archibald Hart has written an excellent book on the physical side of anxiety. He explains that anxiety is the result of adrenalin in our system. Adrenalin is the chemical that gives us almost superhuman strength in emergencies. But over time, if we try to run on adrenalin all the time, it tears us down. It breaks down the brain chemicals that give us our sense of wellbeing—serotonin and norepinephrine. We get nervous and jittery. We can’t sleep. We obsess and fret over things. Our hearts ache and we get upset over nothing. When we cannot fight or flee we turn into worriers.  

Anxiety is a subtle and dangerous killer. Often we don’t even realize we have it. Many Christians have it all time, but they just think it’s normal to worry. Unlike excitement that comes from pleasure, which builds us up, our worry and anxiety is tearing us down. 

The Bible talked about anxiety two thousand years before psychologists discovered it. The Bible uses two different words for fear and anxiety. Fear is phobos in Greek, and refers to the sudden reaction of threat. The Greek word for anxiety is merimnate, which derives from the word for partition or divide. When we are anxious, we have divided thoughts and hearts. One part of us is trying to live in today, while the other part is worried about yesterday, or tomorrow. We are carrying two or three times the burden we should in our minds. We cannot enjoy or be productive in this day, because our minds are stuck somewhere else. 

A friend of mine spoke about getting some terrible news about one of his children. Afterwards, he had to get in his car and drive to the drug store. He thought about his child, and suddenly realized that he had passed the drug store and was on the other side of town. He had not been paying attention to where he was going. His anxiety about his child had occupied the space in his brain that should have been given to navigating and driving. 

Anxiety distracts us from life. We cannot pay attention to our business, because we are thinking about our worries. We all have anxiety, but when it affects our daily enjoyment of life, then our anxiety has overcome us.  

Jesus gave us the best advice we could ever have about anxiety in Matthew 6, “Take no thought about tomorrow.” In Matthew 6: 31-34

 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Worry and anxiety steals today from us, by focusing on the past or the future. When we are robbed of today, then our tomorrow is stolen in the process. It steals our attention from what we are doing now, and forces us to focus on what may never be.

Have you even taken a trip with someone who required a lot of attention? For example, an elderly relative or a small child.  How much attention could you give to what you were doing while you were worried about them? You cannot, because you have a divided heart. You are either paying attention to one or the other. 

Worry wears everyone down in time. It burns us up from the inside.

During World War II the army hired psychologists to look at the state of troops in combat, particularly in regard to “shell-shock” what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress. What they discovered was that the maximum a person could withstand in continual battle field conditions was twenty-one consecutive days.  Every soldier, no matter how balanced or fearless, would experience shell-shock after twenty-one days of fighting. They had to have time off or they would burn out. So, the army learned to rotate soldiers in and out of battle.

A continual state of heightened adrenalin is poison to your system. We need time to recuperate if we are to survive. This is what Paul addresses in Philippians 4: 6-7 

“Do not be anxious about anything, 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.”

  The word for anxiety is our old friend merimnate. It means to have a divided heart, which means to care over things we don’t need to care about at the moment. 

Paul isn’t saying that you can avoid being anxious. Everyone is anxious sometimes. In Philippians 2: 2, Paul feels anxious about the Philippian church. He admits in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-34, that a married man is more anxious than an unmarried man, because of his responsibilities for his family. No one is suggesting we’ll just saunter fearlessly through life-threatening situations without any worry. We must deal with worry. We must learn to lay our anxieties aside and get on with life.

“Be anxious over nothing.” Many people are anxious over exactly that—nothing! Is what we are worrying about anything worth worrying about? Whenever we are anxious, we should first decide what we are anxious about. What’s really stressing us?

Second, ask if what you are worrying about is in your control or out of your control. Is it really within your power to prevent all calamity, or is your worry really taking on a responsibility that belongs to God. It is sensible to take precautions against disaster, but anyone who assumes they can stop all of life’s disasters is fooling themselves. Most of our worries are about things we can’t control.

We can’t control the past. We can’t control the future. We can only control our now, which is this moment. This is the only responsibility we have. To make good decisions today.

We can’t change the past. Shame, regret, unforgiveness, and guilt are all just different words for anxiety about the past. The past is gone, and it is like a ghost. Don’t be afraid of ghosts. They cannot affect us now unless we let them. Christ’s forgiveness on the Cross set us free from worries about the past.

We can control only a small part of the present. You can’t stop a meteor hurtling to earth over your head. Neither can we stop our grown kids from making stupid decisions. We can only control the little part of the world we are in right now.

We cannot control the future. I can assure you that bad things as well as good things will definitely happen tomorrow.  But when they happen, God will give us what we need to survive. 

Paul says, “In everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known.”

Whenever we feel anxiety welling up inside, we must respond by slowing down and resting. Take some deep breaths. Take a moment to meditate and pray. Instead of driving faster, drive slower. Turn off the radio. Turn off the news programs, and pray instead.

The usual response I get when I suggest prayer is this, “I tried praying, but it didn’t work!”   My answer is, “How did you pray? Did you pray in calm or in panic?  Did you expect immediate results, or long-term strength?  Did you go through the steps of prayer--acknowledging who God is, recognizing the blessings, confessing your sins, and accepting His forgiveness, or did you just skip those parts of prayer and just scream, “Help!” Prayer is a concentrated act of devotion, a laying aside of worries to visit with our Maker. In prayer we step out of our worldly boundaries and commune with God on a different level. We’ll never be calm if we keep one eye on God, and one on the world. That divided heart is the essence of worry.

Paul gives us a promise that if we give God His due, and entrust to Him what is really His, then the peace of God which passes all understanding will fill us. Instead of being driven by adrenalin, we are calmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

Worry will kill you. Christ will save you.  When we bring our worries to Him, then he will lift the burden of our worries from our shoulders.

The Far Side of Fear

Christians ought to be the happiest, most successful people on earth. We have everything going for us. We know we’re going to heaven, we have God on our side, and we have the Holy Spirit. Of all people we are the most blessed.

But really--does this sound like most Christians you know?   

There’s a huge gap between the life God intended for us and what we actually experience. We fall short of God’s promises in behavior, experience, and happiness. There are several reasons for this failure. Over the next few weeks we are going to address seven of them. I call them the “seven sinister sisters”---fear, anxiety, hopelessness, laziness, jealousy, perfectionism, and independence.

Today, we begin with the oldest and most dangerous of them all--fear.  If we trust Jesus, we should be happy, bold, and fearless. But not only are Christians fearful, we are often more fearful than unbelievers. We sing “This is My Father’s World,” but instead of seeing the world as God’s, we see it as filled with dangers. We fear its creation too much to ever love it. We are like the farmer who once told me that his farm was God’s country, but that the boundaries did not extend much beyond his property lines. We look at the rest of the world as a dangerous place, as we huddle in a corner, and worry about becoming polluted by it.

We live in one of the safest nations on earth, yet we are more afraid than people living with wild animals in the jungle. We live in a society where the crime rate steadily declines, yet we think it is going up. We have more freedom than anywhere in the world yet we don’t use it, because we are afraid. We are afraid of terrorists, afraid of traffic, afraid of disease, afraid of crime, and afraid of being talked about by others. We live in a land that is a mountain of prosperity, yet we fear not having enough to eat. We live in a country that is stronger than any other country on earth and yet we feel unprotected.

I blame our news programs for much of it. Whenever there is a tragedy anywhere in the world, we get a steady stream of coverage, blanketing our world with discussions, until we forget that these are only isolated incidents. We are so bombarded by attention that it distorts our perception. America is not descending into chaos. Christianity is not about to be banned. People are not really shooting each other on the streets, and what you eat is not about to immediately cause cancer.

 The Bible has a lot to say about fear. At least twenty three times in the Bible, we are commanded not to fear. 

Before we go further, we need to be clear that we can’t just command fear to go away. Fear is an emotion. We can no more control when we feel fear than when we feel hunger, drowsiness, or anger.

Fear is an individual thing. One person fears crowds, another heights, and another closed spaces.  We don’t know why one person fears one thing while another does not.

But we all fear. Our pulse races, our mouth gets dry, and we experience the desire to either fight or run. 

Fear is natural, and sometimes necessary.  But just because we feel it doesn’t mean we have to act on it. Feeling fear is not the problem, it’s what we do with it.  We have to master our fears.  Panic is when our fears master us. The biggest danger is not fearing, but panicking from fear. Panic is doing stupid, irrational things because we are afraid. 

As I said, the Bible command us not to fear twenty-three times. It does not mean “don’t feel fear” but “don’t panic.” There is no shame in feeling fear, and no one should be ashamed to admit when they are afraid.  But we don’t have to act on fear. 

I have a list of useless things people say to each other. At the top is “Don’t be afraid.” We can’t control whether we feel fear. We can control what we do about it.

Bravery isn’t the opposite of fear. Bravery is the opposite of panic. It’s a choice to act in some other way than panic. The bravest people are those who are just as afraid as anyone else, but who choose to face their fears instead of run from them. 

Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7,
 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”
A “spirit of fear” is not feeling fear, but being possessed by it. Of all the spirits infecting the world today, the spirit of fear is the most dangerous by far. The spirit of fear is responsible for most of the violence done on this earth. It is behind prejudice, bigotry, rage, injustice, and so many other things.  When the Charleston shooter fired on that unarmed black church, it was because he feared the encroachment of people unlike himself on his world.  More families are broken up, more wars started, more crimes committed due to fear than for any other reason.    

Once I entered a pasture full of cows by climbing over a fence. A bull came charging at me, and I had to jump over the fence.

Why did that bull charge?  A bull eats grass, not people. He charged because he feared what I might have done to himself or his cows. Remember that there are two reactions to fear—fight or flight.  We either run away or like that bull, or we become aggressive.  A person who attacks out of fear is not being brave—he is panicking. 

Or we run in panic. No one ever thinks they are panicking, of course running is still rationalized in our minds as a reasonable retreat. For most Christians, running away from our responsibilities and duties does more damage than fighting.    

Peter gives an example of what panic in a marriage can do in 1 Peter 3:6.  He praises a faithful wife, calling her a daughter of Sarah,
 “like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

Sarah was the wife of Abraham. While he was in his eighties, Abraham left on what most people must have assumed was a wild goose chase. He left his home and his land to seek a place God would show him. If you were his wife, what would you think?  Doubtless, she was afraid. At times, she probably complained bitterly to him about her husband’s foolish quest. (After all, her original name was Sarai, which means “Nag”)  But Sarah stayed with the old fool anyway. She did not panic and go to live with relatives. She stayed with her husband, not because she trusted Abraham, but she trusted the Lord, and did not give in to her fears. As a result, Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah, which means “Princess.” She went from nag to princess, because she did not give in to her fear, but trusted God.

Fear breaks up more families than lust. One spouse becomes afraid that their mate won’t provide for their needs. They become afraid of what their lives will be with their God given spouse, so they panic and run from them. They tell themselves that there is all other reasons, but panic is the root. That panic leads the situation where God placed them.

 God often requires us to stay with people and situations we cannot trust. We must stay with one person, while we are trusting another. We stay with our job, not because we trust our boss, but because we trust the Lord. We stay with our church, not because we trust the preacher, but because that is where God placed us. We stay with our unbelieving friend in spite of the hurt he causes, because he is the mission field that God entrusted to us. Sure we are in jeopardy, but God never promised us complete freedom from fear, only the power to get through it. 

We should never trust people completely—we should trust the Lord completely. When we flee from where God put us, then we are really fleeing God. 

Every time the Bible commands us to not panic it gives a reason. Here are three. First, because God is with us. Genesis 26:24 says,
“Fear not, for I am with you.”

 If there is one sentence that summarizes the entire Bible, it would be this—God is with us. He was with Noah on the ark, Abraham on Mount Moriah, Moses on Mount Sinai, David in the cave,   Elijah in the wilderness, Daniel in the furnace, Paul while shipwrecked, and John in exile--every person in the Bible. When they remembered this, they were strong. When they forgot this, they were weak. 

There is never a time when God is not with you. To be afraid with him is like being afraid when your mother holds you and your father protects you.

Second, because God loves you. Isaiah 41:13,

 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you."
God saves us. The name “Jesus” means “Savior.” Jesus is the ultimate sign of God’s love. Only one time in the whole Bible did God ever turn His back on someone he loved, and that was when He allowed Christ to die on the cross. But that was God Himself on the Cross, bleeding for us. 

God doesn’t just love you. He likes you. God would do anything to help protect you, and care for you.  He will never leave or forsake you. He died to cover all your sins. You can never sin your way out of God’s love. He doesn’t punish you for your mistakes. He loves you like a mother loves her child, like a groom loves his bride, and like a bride loves her husband. Nothing you can or will ever do will ever take you out of God’s love.

Third, God has plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11,
“’For I know the plans I have for you.’ declares the Lord. “’ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"
Fear deceives us into forgetting the future.  But God holds the future. We don’t always know what the future is, but it is what exists on the far side of our fear. We can’t avoid our fear or run from our fear, we can’t drive what we fear away. We must face it, in order to get to the future.  

Deuteronomy 1:21,
 “Go take possession as the Lord your God has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” 
 The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years because they were afraid to enter. It wasn’t until that scared generation died that their children could enter. 

Think of what you fear most in your life right now. There is a hope and future beyond, and sometimes the only way through it is to face it.

Last week we took our grandchildren for a helicopter ride. My grandson is afraid of heights but he reluctantly agreed to go. After we had bought our tickets, he had a full-blown panic attack. We assured him that it was very safe, and that we would be with him, but that did not help. He wanted to quit. We asked him if tomorrow came, and he had not taken the ride would he feel better or worse about himself.  Fear only lasts a moment, but the accomplishment lasts forever. Ten minutes into the ride, he decided he wanted to be a helicopter pilot!

What is on the far side of fear? The future is!  If we allow our fear to rule us, then we will never discover that future. Fear is natural and normal, but when it runs our lives, then it robs us of our future and eventually our hope.  
The next time you are afraid, just remember that God is with you, that he loves you, and that He has a wonderful plan for you. But that plans lie on the far side of overcoming our fears.