“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

There was a period of time I had dreams that a wild pack of dogs was chasing me.  I never saw them, I just heard their snarling, vicious barking and my imagination ran away with thoughts of being torn limb from limb.  I’d be filled with fear and instinctively run for my life.

Night after night this nightmare invaded my dreams until one night when I heard the dogs right behind me and I thought what if I just stand here, turn around and face them?

So I did.

The barking stopped and the dogs were gone.

I never had that dream again. Later I had dreams about bears, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Because of a series of events throughout my life, fear is something I’ve always had to deal with.  Even when the initial event is over, that fear can linger like a pack of invisible dogs.  And I haven’t always stood my ground and stared that thing I’m afraid of in the face.  There are times I’ve run.

But the Lord’s shown me that if I keep running from the thing I’m afraid of, fear will always chase me.

We all have invisible dogs–those fears that chase after us–and for some inexplicable reason we automatically turn and run.  They don’t even have to be big things.  Sometimes we run from the little things just because we don’t want to be uncomfortable.

And running from those little things puts in motion deep inside us an undercurrent of fear that we may not even be aware is there.  And then when something big comes along, instead of being able to draw on a foundation of courage, we have none.

Trusting God to be with us in the little things grows our faith big enough to trust Him in the big things.

And there is something big God has entrusted to us.

It’s the reason Paul encourages Timothy (and us) to remember that God does not give a spirit of fear.

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,  who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,”  2 Timothy 1:6

Above anything else, we can’t be afraid to use the spiritual gifts God’s given to each one of us for the good of the kingdom of God—to strengthen our brothers and sisters and to witness to those who are as of yet unsaved.

And sometimes that can be a little scary.  A little uncomfortable.

Paul suffered to share the message of the gospel with people who were dying in their sin.  But he so believed in that message—in Christ—that he was willing to risk being repeatedly imprisoned, flogged, starved, shipwrecked, in constant danger, and finally, beheaded.

I doubt any of us will ever face the trials Paul did, but we will serve Christ at a cost.  Like Paul, we are here on a mission.  We are called to share in the sufferings of Christ, to be a living sacrifice, bold and unashamed, living for His glory, not our comfort.

But oh, the gain.  The souls we’ll encourage, the lives we’ll save, the light we’ll shine, the glory we’ll reveal, the crowns we’ll receive and cast at the feet of our Lord.

If we’re willing to turn around and look fear in the face.

A lot of the time those fears will disappear when we turn to face them.  But if they don’t, if they charge us anyway, at the end of day, it won’t matter.

Paul has long forgotten his suffering.  But he will never forget the joy of serving alongside the King of kings, the glory that’s his in Christ, or the souls that are with him now, all because he was willing to use his gift.

Grace and peace,