What Do You Fear? – Brian L. Thompson
I know you’ve heard the acronym, F.E.A.R., or “False Evidence Appearing Real.” It’s catchy and memorable, isn’t it?
But, when the rubber hits the road, and reality strikes home, does remembering that phrase give you comfort? If I’m honest, it’s the last thing on my mind.
On a personal note, going into small business for myself was a great leap of faith to me. On God’s direction, I left a “fairly stable” profession – public school teaching — to do it. At the time, my daughter wasn’t even two years old, and my wife wasn’t working.
For me, someone who takes great care with logistics and planning ahead, leaving a steady paycheck position for uncertainty was a nightmare waiting to happen. How will we live, pay bills? What about health care? Maybe I’m the only person you know who has wavered in the past when an overdue bill comes in, I have no way to pay it, and it’s a day from being cut off.
I don’t believe it’s irrational to have real concerns about a legitimate issue, but what I had going on bordered irrational panic.
A good friend of mine once said, “If God ordered it, He’ll pay for it.” What she did not mention was how long the wait is for things to go right, and that sometimes, it looks REALLY bad before they get there.
(See Jn. 11: although He knew Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed away until Lazarus died, and then went to raise him from the dead.)
My coworkers thought I was nuts when I told them about my resignation, with no plans to immediately teach someplace else. I thought I was crazy, too, and it that decision does not look any different to me or my wife in retrospect.
I prayed for confirmation, a sign, a damp fleece, something. All God gave me was: do it. When I was a growing babe in Christ, I got continual reassurances from God. I’d experience one or more spiritual comforts – confirmations from my pastor from the pulpit, or from brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s like I had spiritual training wheels.
Gradually, those reminders and supports gave way to insistent instruction and nothing else. This time, I either walked in faith and quit my job or blatantly disobeyed and stayed. I begged for my training wheels back and got silence.
Every year, in the state of Georgia, teachers are tendered contracts unless they are let go for whatever reason or they resign. Some want to leave their respective schools, but will not do so without a concrete offer from another district. Not only does fear keep them from stepping out into something different, maybe even destined for their lives, but it also occupies a position possibly meant for someone else.
Ironically, fear of failing God and my family motivated me to move. Remember the story of the Israelites, who allowed ten people to talk them out of destiny? They wandered around the wilderness for 40 years! Not one of them saw the Promised Land.
There’s no way I wanted that to happen to us. If I failed, according to the world’s standards of what success is, at least I stepped out and tried something different. At that point, success seemed to be closer than a failure of epic proportions.
When I began this stretch of my Christian walk, I was 34. Imagine being my age, or younger, and never coming into God’s will for you because of fear! Either you’d die with destiny locked inside of you, or you’d watch someone else do exactly what it is He meant for you to do. Think of how painful it would be to walk around in circles for the rest of your life when you could’ve had something greater and you know it.
How’s that for something to be afraid of?
So, I moved. I gathered enough courage to submit my resignation letter. I did not stop fearing, but instead, I did it afraid.
Don’t place me in the Hebrews Chapter Eleven gallery of faith heroes. I wavered and cowered. My stomach was in knots every day in February, 2010, and even more so when my principal came to my room to try to clarify it with me.
The one thing I did right was move.
Since then, a number of my former coworkers have told me how that move inspired them. Will they do anything based on that inspiration? Maybe, maybe not, but the point is to plant the seed of courage and water it – getting it to grow is up to God (I Cor. 3:7)