Preparing for this trip to Kenya has been a rather bumpy emotional roller coaster for me. I vacillate between feeling very excited, full of faith in God to use me for His glory, and feeling inadequate, anxious, and in the tight grip of fear that drives me to my knees in desperation for the Lord to calm my heart. Things have evened out a bit for the time being, but not before God spent some time doing some major work in my heart.
Recently I read the story of Gideon delivering the Israelites (Judges 6-7) and was reminded why I love it so much. Note the number of times Gideon shows doubt and/or fear: When the angel of the Lord tells Gideon that the Lord is with him, his response is, “Well then why have all these terrible things happened to us?” [doubt] When the Lord tells him that he is to save Israel from the Midianites, he offers excuses, saying that he is from the weakest clan and is the least in his family [doubt]. The Lord persists in saying that He will be with Gideon. As Gideon continues to ask for sign after reassuring sign [doubt], the Lord is gracious enough to grant Gideon’s requests. When the time comes for Gideon to go fight, God tells him that if he is afraid, he is to go down to the camp with his servant. And what does Gideon do in the very next verse? He goes down to the camp with his servant. I.E., he was afraid.
And yet, God began this whole story by greeting Gideon with, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior,” or in the NKJ version, “mighty man of valor!” Clearly, Gideon was anything BUT fearless. Clearly he had some serious trust issues. Clearly he had little confidence in himself, and his confidence in God was debatable at times. However, happily for the children of God, we serve a God who calls things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17).
About four weeks ago, God began moving in my heart, nudging me in the direction of Kenya. After the initial excitement, I began to feel waves of doubt as I started wondering what I had gotten myself into and what crazy person had taken control of my brain the day I decided I would go. Like Gideon, I have asked many times for God’s reassurance, and He has been gracious to give it to me as He did for Gideon. Like Gideon, I have made known my fears to the Lord, and like Gideon’s, my fear will not excuse me from this task that God has set before me.
After hearing a sermon from Pastor Ellis about the courage of Nehemiah, I came to the realization that it is ok for me to feel afraid. Instead of trying to rationalize away some (surprisingly) rational fears, along with some of my customary irrational ones (thrown in for good measure), I have found relief in realizing that, like Gideon’s, my fear does not have to keep me from doing what God has asked me to do. I can choose to do what I believe He is calling me to do in spite of my insecurity, all the while clinging to constant reminders of the Truth about God’s protection (*Deuteronomy 33:12) and faithfulness (**Romans 8:28). I know that it is not God’s desire that I would live in fear, but I also know that it is not His desire that moments of anxiety would keep me from serving Him as He chooses and, in turn, from enjoying the abundant life He came to give me (***John 10:10). And so, with that, Lord willing, it is off to Africa I go. I think I’ll take Him up on that abundant life offer.
*About Benjamin he said, “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
**And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
***The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.