Paralyzed by Fear
I have always connected to Peter. I feel like I can relate to that guy. Speaking without thinking at times. Making mistakes. Loving the Lord with all I’ve got. But, do you know which story involving Peter speaks to me the most? The one where Jesus tells him to step out of the boat. Peter is terrified. He wants to follow Jesus, but fear paralyzes him.
Matthew 14: 28-33 (ESV):
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Fear paralyzes me too.
“Lord, if it’s you…”
I feel like God is telling me to write. Like He’s been telling me to write for a while now. But, what do I do? Like Peter, I say,”Lord, if it’s you…” I am constantly asking God to confirm for me. If it’s really you, then tell me again. If it’s really you, then make ___ happen. Why do I feel the need to do this? Do I really doubt God? How can I? He’s the creator of the universe! Who am I to doubt God?!? No. It’s not doubt; it’s fear.
It’s fear that maybe I really did hear God speak to me. And maybe he told me to do something outside of my comfort zone. And maybe that something is a little bit scary. Maybe it’s a lot scary.
Like Peter, once I finally get the courage to take a step, fear begins to whisper to me, snaking its way into my mind.
Thoughts swirl around my head like water around a whirlpool. Around and around, until the thoughts pull me under, into the depths of panic. What if I didn’t really hear God? What if I fail? What if people laugh at me? What if… It’s never-ending. Like Peter, I’m afraid of what I can’t see. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the what ifs.
The thing that brings me comfort is knowing that Jesus didn’t give up on Peter. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t turn away from him. He simply said, “Come.” When Peter cries out to Jesus, saying, “Lord, save me,” Jesus immediately reaches out his hand to him. Immediately, without hesitation. Jesus understands Peter and what he needs. He understands me too. Nothing is more comforting than that.
Step Toward Jesus
Jesus does ask Peter why he doubted. But, it’s not a harsh rebuke. It feels more like a gentle reminder. It’s like Jesus is saying, “I’ve got this, remember? Trust me.”
So, what can we do when fear threatens to paralyze us? When the what ifs are swirling, pulling us down into panic? We keep our eyes on Jesus. We look at Him, not at the waves. We call out to him, not to our fears. We take a step forward and we trust. Even if we fall, Jesus will catch us. He’s got this, remember?
I’d rather fall toward Jesus than take a step anywhere else.
I hope that whatever is paralyzing you, whatever what ifs are swirling around your head, that you take a moment to recenter yourself. To focus your gaze on Jesus and to trust.
Fear Fighting Book by Kelly Balarie
If this is an issue near and dear to your heart, please check out a resource that is meant to help you turn away from crippling fear and toward the outstretched arms of a loving, compassionate God. Kelly Balarie, from www.purposefulfaith.com, weaves her personal testimony with encouragement and action steps to help you fight fear and become the woman that God has called you to be. Fearless and on fire for Him! Read more about her book at www.fearfightingbook.com.