As we were driving to our beautiful mountain getaway in Colorado, my then three year old Granddaughter, Jadyn, asked where our cabin was located. I pointed to the mountains in this picture and said:
“Our cabin is located right where those five lines come down the mountain.”
She stared intently at the mountains for several minutes. Then the following conversation took place…
Jadyn: “Can we play outside at the cabin?”
Me: “Of course.”
Jadyn: “Will the tigers get us?”
Me: “Jadyn, there are no tigers in the mountains!”
Jadyn: “When do they come down?”
Jadyn: “The tigers!”
Me: “Jadyn, there are no tigers!”
Jadyn: “But you said the cabin was right where five lions come down!”
Few things in life can short-circuit our efforts to live fully alive more than fear. I’m not talking about the kind of fear that keeps us from running across the street in heavy traffic, or holds us back from jumping over the fence into the polar bear cage at the zoo. I’m addressing the kind of fear that keeps a sweet three year old from the joy of playing outside. “Imaginary lions” kind of fear.
Fear paralyses full grown adults from creating beautiful art, tackling worthy projects, and even keeps them from exploring new relationships. Here are some questions that can help determine how real your fears are and help banish them from your life.
1. Is your fear based on reality?
Ninety-nine percent of the fears in our life are focused on imaginary lions that either don’t exist or live deep in the forest. I knew a man who would never get on an elevator because he feared it might fail. What if someone breaks into my house? The sky is falling! These phobias and obsessions are often identified as clinical anxieties that cripple normal development. Yet millions of people live in some stage fear based on lions that don’t exist.
2. Is your fear based on failure?
I’m a recovering perfectionist. I fear failure. That kind of fear will affect your ability to move forward in every area of your life. I’ve painted pictures and shown them to no one. I wrote letters I never sent. I planned trips we never took. If I couldn’t do it perfectly I gave up. Someone asked best selling author and speaker, Andy Andrews, “What if I fail?” His answer rocked my world. “You will fail! Do it quickly and get it over with.” He went on to say, “Look at failure as the opportunity to do it better next time.”
3. What is the worst that could happen?
I recently wrote book of lighthearted devotionals called Lighten up and Live. Because of fear, I wasted days deciding whether to even start the project. Lions attacked from everywhere! As I procrastinated on a project a wise counselor suggested I ask this question, “What is the worst that could happen?” He instructed me to write each fear down.
The longer the list got, the more ridiculous and wimpy each of the fears looked.
What if it doesn’t succeed?
What if people are offended by the humor?
What if they compare my little book to the really great inspirational writers of the day?
Then I hit the mother load.
The undeniable legitimate question. WHaT iF I DiE?
Immediately I was reminded of a scripture:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
And how did God give us this marvelous freedom from fear? By removing forever, even the fear of death. As I write this post, (and fear how it might be received) my sweet sister and two beloved friends are fighting life threatening cancer.
My pitiful fears of failure are vaporized in the presence of their courage, faith and peace! Yes, peace!
Occasional tears? Yes!
Concern for family? Yes!
A desire to avoid great pain? Yes!
Fear of death?
Each of these dear people cling to God’s promise that nothing on this earth or in all of the universe can keep us from the love of Christ. Because of the love and sacrifice of Christ, death has lost it’s sting. Fear takes a back seat to love every time. Their lives inspire me.
One of the greatest ways to vaporize fear’s power is to realize this truth… fear only has the amount of power we give it.
I cherish your comments.
Please pray for my friends.
As a recovering perfectionist, I completely relate! I’m glad you have done the things you have, you have reached many people with your words. My grandmother loved you, my sons love you! You have a wide reach! 🙂 PS….I guess it goes without saying, but I love you too!
68 years gives one a wide reach. The only person I missed was your Great grandmother and her mother. Blessings today Marcia!
Thank you for taking the time to think of us who are struggling with fear. All my life I have had little or no fear of “stepping outside my box”. However, the extremely unusual events that I have lived through have prompted many of my friends and 2 of my 3 children to tell me that these events are book worthy. I have written short stories about single comical events in my life, but writing a book puts fear into my heart. After reading your script here, I feel I can move forward to pursue this project.
And, yes, it is a privilege for me to pray for your dear sister and your two friends. God is still a God of miracles.
Love you, my Brother…………
Thank you for the prayers Jan. My sister is having surgery today!
Praying al day for God’s healing hand on her.
Losing my memory and use of my extremities on my left side means my fears based on reality. I know where my disorder is going and I fear what I will be like just before I get to go home. God, however has decided to take my mind off my fears by throwing me those curve balls when I get down, he knows they cheer me up and cheer up those around me. Latest strange flavor of the day: buttered popcorn and Mello Yello. not bad until you realize that the soda pop tasted like Mello Yello on the right side of my tongue and buttered popcorn on the left at the same time.
Your life is a testament to the truth that fear only has the power we give it. I did an interview on your local Christian radio station the other day and talked about the positive affect you have had on my life. BTW Choose to enjoy the buttered popcorn taste. There is nothing “Mellow” or “Yellow” about you. YOu are one of my heros.
right alongside you praying for at least 2 of those folks I know… and love this reminder. Perfect LOVE drives out FEAR. What a great visual too… 5 LIONS. Just love that. I will think of those LIONS when I sit down to work on my next chapter of my book. which the perfection curse has a hold of right now… ugh! We are all human after all, huh?
hope to play golf with you soon… or at least see your smiling face.
Thank you Sarah. Speaking of perfectionism, golf will drive that demon out of you in a nano second. FOUR!
I call it lack of time, but it’s really fear that is holding me back from working on my own devotional. Remembering the lions are only lines and God is bigger than even death. Such needed encouragement, Ken. Blessed to pray for your loved ones, and you.
Julie, Your encouraging words fly in the face of the lions of fear. Thank you for always taking the time to respond to my posts. You are appreciated and loved.
Thanks, Ken. I need to hear these words, your words, in my today.
This wonderful post hit such a chord for me. Lions. What a wonderful way to look at fear. It really feels that way that there is something laying in wait keeping me from reaching further and doing all I believe I am capable of doing. I will keep this in mind next time I avoid something out of fear and remind myself that the fear is only as big and as fierce as a lion, as long as I believe it so. My prayers for your sister and for your dear friends for full recoveries.
Thanks for your comment Pat. You are an encouraging friend.
“fear only has the amount of power we give it” – so refuse to give it any! Failing is not the end – a wasted life is the just that – wasted. Better to try … and try again …
Great advice! and I’m not Lion! (-;
Well I thought I just did this but apparently not…old age…back to what I was saying, that I am aware of a Christian couple who were just attacked by Muslims in another country…his wife needs medical help as she was sexually assaulted…when this came up, it was perfect and the man is going to use it in his church
God’s timing is impeccable! Thanks for your comment.
Thanks for your encouraging post, Ken. You are truly a blessing to the Body of Christ. Thankful for you and your ministry. You bring laughter, joy, encouragement, and great wisdom to everyone you come in contact with. Jesus shines through you! Am praying for your sister, and two friends. I pray that they experience God’s healing touch. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!! Love and Blessings to you!!
(The girl who had snot coming out of her nose, from laughing so hard, at your comedy.)
Sister is out of surgery and feeling well. Her faith is so amazing. At peace even though she has not yet received news of the test results. Waiting can be the hardest part. My wife Diane is a thirty year survivor. We hold on to hope.
I can’t believe you sent this to me today. An opportunity of a new and better job has been presented to me. I’m so afraid of disappointing my boss by leaving after 7 years and fear the failure of going back to school to learn to become a preschool teacher. Thank you for your strong words of encouragement. Bless you, your sister and friends. I will pray for them.
I am glad this was timely for you. Thank you for letting me know.
Thank you! I pray for healing for your sister and friends and comfor to their friends and family…and for you.
She is out of surgery and doing well. Thank you for your prayers.
I love your post. I find it sad when people who claim to be filled with faith in God are so fearful. When I feel fear, I try to remind myself that to fear is to do exactly what Jesus told me not to do. I may have to then choose to “act as if…”. It seems that when I do that, the fearful feelings pass.
I have a spirit of peace. It’s the “sound mind” I am missing.
Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. 😉
Yes, a much needed and lovingly confrontational reading…my lions roar at me just when I purpose in my heart to do the two projects that have brought me joy in the past. But these projects sit on my two different working desks, being walked by each day. I need to take these Lions by this manes and claim victory. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” Thanks, Ken, your blogs are read by me when God knows I need the whip and chair to conquer the Lions.
I am grateful for your comments. And I’m not lion! (-;
Did anybody see the antelope spread across the road. They had no fear of lions.