My 19 year old daughter got her first tattoo 2 weeks ago. She hid it from me for a few days, then finally sent me a text that said “Mama, don’t be mad, but guess what…” Then, she went silent for several minutes as she gathered the nerve to deliver her confession. Little did she know I wouldn’t be mad at all. In fact, I was kinda proud of her. She’s a soldier in the Army, doing things every day that scare her. Every day she wakes up at 3 am, puts on that uniform and is pushed beyond her comfort zone. But especially that week. She got a tattoo to remind her of her truth. On her right forearm it is forever inked “NO FEAR Joshua 1:9”.
No fear. Why? Because she was actually full of fear. She was about to begin jump week in airborne school. Jump, as in out of an airplane barreling through the sky. Not skydive, this is different. This is the training of a paratrooper. This is ‘do it wrong and you die’. This is ‘reach for the ground and your legs snap’. And understand she is a girl who doesn’t like heights, sits out on adventures, and never goes first. She was overcome with fear, but she felt if she remember what God said to her, she would find the courage to jump.
Joshua 1:9 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Her time came for that first jump, and even with her new ink, she was terrified. Shaking, crying, filled with doubt and fear. Then, she did it. She jumped anyway. Then it was time for her 2nd jump, then 3rd, 4th and 5th and she was still feared with fear. Had the tattoo not worked? Had she failed to grab ahold of that scripture and believe it?
No, actually she did exactly what God has instructed us to do. She had fear, but fear no longer had her. ‘No fear’ isn’t an absence of fear, it’s a declaration of ‘NO FEAR, YOU DON’T WIN.” The fear is still there, but the courage is bigger. Courage leads, fear follows. And when courage keeps leading, fear falls way behind.
What have you been scared to do? What next step is ahead of you but you’ve been avoiding it because of what could go wrong or what may be required of you? Well how long are you going to sit this out? Your whole life will pass you by as you wait for that fear to leave.
Here’s what I’ve found … I’ve never once gotten over a fear by waiting. Not a single time have I ever been cured of my fear by thinking about it, studying it, or talking about it. No, my fear only grew in my delay. We don’t have to understand fear, we have to face fear. We have to show up scared, shaking in our boots, and do it anyway.
No fear, you don’t win. You don’t hold me back again. You don’t cause me to sit back in a little life when I was created for a BIG life. I will make friends with being scared. I will do it afraid. And fear, you’re not welcome here. I’m doing this.
Why? Because honey, God has made you to be strong and courageous. Now here’s the thing. You may not feel strong and courageous right now while you’re still afraid of that next step, that jump, and that unknown future. And you won’t. That’s where we get tripped and tricked. We think one day we will FEEL strong, and then we can make that change, we can make that commitment, we can jump into our destiny, but today we just don’t feel strong enough yet, so we wait. And we wait. And we wait.
We wake up … self, do you feel strong enough today? Nah, not today, maybe tomorrow. Then it’s not tomorrow, maybe next month I’ll feel stronger and I’ll get started then. Nope, not next month, but maybe next year. It’s a vicious cycle of hoping to feel stronger, hoping to feel more courageous, but never quite feeling good enough so we shrink back a little more, deeper into a rut, further into the pit, darker and darker we go. Until we’re living a life we don’t like and looking at a reflection we don’t recognize. Sound familiar? This is the work of fear.
You’re left to wonder if something is wrong with you. Why don’t you ever feel strong enough to take the next step or make that change? How has everyone else become so strong and courageous and done it, but you can’t seem to ever take that first step or keep on the path long enough to make true progress?
Here’s why … you’re waiting on a feeling that only comes AFTER the jump. I promise you my girl didn’t feel strong when she jumped out of that airplane. What she felt was absolute, undeniable, debilitating fear. And she jumped anyway. Unsure and uncertain, she gathered every ounce of courage she had, and she just did it.
Then … then … after hitting that ground hard and laying there for a moment she realized what she had just done and THEN the strength came. In that moment she felt strong because she had done it afraid. She had made friends with being scared. She remembered her tattoo and said NO to fear. The fear was there, oh it was there, but she didn’t have to listen to it. With each jump she felt more confident and courageous. Strength was building and grip of fear was weakening. Understand, that only happens in the doing.
Maybe all this time you’ve been waiting until you have less fear, and all you needed was a little more courage. Courage to tell fear NO. No fear, you don’t win. No fear, you don’t get to decide my future. No fear, you don’t own me. I have you, but you don’t have me.
This morning I read “fear not” is used at least 80 times in the Bible. Why would God feel this is so important to repeat it 80 times? Likely because our creator knows the enemy uses fear against us. The devil steals our victories with fear. How many more loses will you experience because you listened to the voice of fear over the voice of courage?
Listen to me right now, the devil is a liar. His attacks often come in the form of fearful thoughts that come creeping into your mind. Your mind is the battlefield. This is where the war is. Has he been winning? Has fear left you stuck in indecision and inaction? Has fear caused you to miss opportunities and open doors?
Well how much longer are you going to allow this in your life? How much longer will fear have you?
NO FEAR, YOU DON’T WIN.
Fear won’t just leave you. It must be overpowered with courage.
I still have fear. I’m facing the little red circle on a stage I’ve dreamed about for years. The TEDTalk circle. 9 days from today I will take that stage, I will step in the middle of that red circle in front of my largest audience ever with cameras rolling, and I will give the talk of my life. One take, no do-overs. Do I have fear? Yes I do. But it doesn’t have me! I will go afraid. I will make friends with being scared and I will muster up every ounce of courage I have and show up for the opportunity.
What will you do? Will you dare to say yes to the opportunity you have right in front of you? Will you dare to show up afraid? Will you dare to try, and maybe fail, but at least you tried and you’ll be better because of it? Or will you shrink back and sit it out again? Will your number be called to jump as you hide? Will fear win? Oh what regret we build when we allow fear to win. Regret is a heavy price to pay for that zone of comfort. But you have another choice, the choice to jump. Will you show up in the face of fear, in the presence of all that could go wrong, in the strong possibility of ridicule and failure, and just be courageous?
Jesus understands fear. Before the cross he expressed fear to the point of sweating blood. Gosh, I’m so grateful he did it anyway, aren’t you? It changed everything forever. He is your example. Follow Jesus. Do the things you’re afraid of. If you know God is leading you to it, then girl GO! Jump.
There will always be a threat that causes us to fear. Always an uncertainty, a problem, a crisis or struggle; but remember you have a God who knows you by name, he sees and cares about every detail of your life, called you his own, and commands you to have courage and say no to fear.
Fear says it knows you. Fear tries to convince you that you will never change, you will never succeed, you will never soar. But sister, you’ve got to know your own identity. You are a daughter of the most high, a fully equipped, strong and courageous daughter of the king, created for and capable of hard things.
It’s time to sing that breakup song. Fear, I’m breaking up with you. I’m so done, so over being afraid.
Fear, you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here