RELIGION COLUMNIST

OPINION | STEPHEN HARRISON: Faith that conquers fear

Stephen Harrison
Stephen Harrison


A few years ago, I went deep-sea diving with my father-in-law. We geared up, dove in, and prepared to explore. Every diver has a tank of breathable air that will last approximately one hour (depending on how deep you dive, how you regulate your breathing, etc.). As an inexperienced diver, I used my air pretty quickly that day.

Not only did I think about sharks sneaking up on me in the water, but I also cut my hand on some coral, and it appeared to bleed profusely. All I could think of was Jaws and Shark Week! I panicked, which caused me to consume most of my air. My tank gauge revealed my air was almost depleted, so I headed to the surface and sat on the bank while waiting for my father-in-law. While there, I noticed my "life-threatening wound" was a mere scratch. I overreacted, and it caused me to miss out on the rest of the dive.

Have you ever panicked, later to realize it wasn't as bad as you initially thought? I've learned when panic begins to set in, I need to praise the Lord. A verse I often quote in my head is, "The Lord will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is fixed on Him" (Isaiah 26:3.)

Going back to the diving illustration, if I had remembered my training, kept my cool, and fixed my eyes on the purpose of the dive rather than blowing my fears out of proportion, I would have enjoyed the trip. But now, my memory is mostly what I missed out on instead of the beauty of the ocean I went to see in the first place. Fear has a way of blinding and robbing us of the goodness God wants us to experience.

So how do we deal with fear? Faith, trust, and the love of God are three of my biggest weapons. 1 John 4:19 reminds me, "Love (that is God) has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love."

There's a lot more in life to miss out on because of fear besides an underwater dive trip. The marriage you've always wanted, the dream you've long ago abandoned, the wound that has now spread to paralyze your every move and thought.

The King James Version says, "fear is torment." It will cause you to give up everything God has said yes to. It believes the devil, a liar (John 8:44), is more powerful than Jesus, who is the Truth (John 14:6.)

Fear didn't keep me from diving in the ocean again. The next time we searched for a sunken ship where the local dive shop owner said a tiger shark was known to hang out. We didn't see the tiger shark, and we never even found the sunken ship. We did see some other great things that day because I didn't let one bad experience (which I learned from) keep me from future enjoyment in life.

Trust the Lord. Let faith overcome your fear and rest in His promises. What's my greatest fear? It is missing God's will and succeeding at things that don't matter in life.

Lord, keep my focus on your perfect will for my life and give me the courage to step into it in faith.

Stephen Harrison is the former lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall. He is the lead pastor of The Summit Church Saline County.

Editor's note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration to [email protected]. Writers should have connections to Southeast Arkansas. Please include your name, phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.


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