EMAIL UPDATE: 03/28/2016

Don’t you love election years?

They’re always so full of encouragement, love, peace, and hope.

Right?

Can I get a resounding “NO!”?

Election years are seasons when every fear we could ever imagine as Americans gets headlined. Then politicians make promises guaranteeing you that they’ll fix, solve, legislate, pass laws, reform laws, build walls, and tear down walls to remove those fears from your life.

I hope we all know that these promises never could actually come true.

But, what if I said that I do have the solution to all your fears, worries, and anxieties.

Tomorrow night I’m going to be teaching at FreshStart in Homer, Alaska on living a lifestyle of faith amidst fear.

And I don’t mean faith in your favorite politician.

Here are three areas we tend to give into fear:

1. FEAR OF JUMPING
When Lydia was about 5 years old we put her in swim class. I would stand her by the edge of the pool and then ask her to jump to me. For Lydia, this was like asking her to jump off a cliff with no bottom in sight. She was terrified. She would always squat down, get on her knees, then slide belly-first into the pool like a Walrus.

Fear of jumping is the fear of the unknown. We all have areas in our life where there are unknowns. These areas make us feel out of control, nervous, or anxious. These unknowns include health, health insurance, children, spouse, finances, jobs, unknown expectations, unfamiliar surroundings or change, people, or being vulnerable, etc.

Jesus talks about fear of the unknown in Matthew 6:25-34. He lists a few practical needs like food and shelter. And, I think we would all agree that some concern about these issues is valid. Especially if you have a family and children.

What is your specific unknown today? This week? This month? This year? What circumstance, relationship, or knowledge would make you feel more comfortable or in control of that unknown?

But, Jesus didn’t think these were valid worries.

He says that we should acknowledge, seek, ask, and thank God first and trust Him (see also Romans 1:18-25). So many of us have valid reasons to be afraid, anxious, or nervous. Perhaps you just lost your job or were diagnosed with cancer. Maybe your insurance is too high and you can’t afford it. Or you have a loved one who is dying.

Regardless of the “valid” unknown in our life Jesus asks us to trust God. And I already know what you’re thinking.

“Trust God?”

This isn’t a simple cathartic Christian platitude. This is a very real and deep subject for some of us. Knowing this, Jesus still replies with, “Do you trust God? Do you trust that He is good? Do you trust Him to provide for your needs?”

I’m not going to pretend to know how God may address your specific unknown. But I do know this, He asks you to trust Him. What trust looks like in your life is between you and God. But can you honestly say, amidst the real unknowns of your life, “I trust God above this unknown!”?


“There is no more blessed way of living, than the life of faith based upon a covenant-keeping God — to know that we have no care, for He cares for us; that we need no fear, except to fear Him; that we need have no troubles, because we have cast our burdens upon the Lord, and are conscience that He will sustain us.”

~ Charles H. Spurgeon


2. FEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL
Working in youth ministry for several years I saw the anxiety that high school placed on people. Thankfully, I had an older brother who was a senior when I moved into high school. He “took care” of most of my “fears”. But for a lot of you, high school was a time for public humiliation and judgement.

Fear of high school is the fear of man. Specifically, it’s the fear of being an outcast, exposed, known, rejected, being a failure, being betrayed, feeling disapproval, inferior, or insignificant.

Both Proverbs (29:25) and Jesus (Matthew 10:26-33) address this issue of fearing people.

Who’s attention or approval would make you feel valued and loved? What have you done (or not done) to earn this attention or approval? What current relationship brings you the most anxiety or uncertainty? Why? What have you done (or not done) to relieve the tension in this relationship?

Jesus, once again, comes back to the issue of trusting Him. But this time it has to do with our identity. I wrote about this earlier, but Eve’s temptation to not trust God didn’t become difficult until her identity was questioned. In the face of judgement and approval to “fear not for you are of more valuable than many sparrows.”

How many of us actually believe that God values us?

We may theologically nod our head but does our heart actually believe this?

This is an interesting paradox. Jesus says, when faced with fearing what people may think, say, or do to us, that we are to fear God. This seems almost counter intuitive. But when understood in light of 1 John 4:7-21 we see that if we fear God, His love works in us so that we no longer have any fear. When we fear man our fear is exponentially multiplied because we now have God to fear as well.

I don’t know your specific identity struggles. But can you honestly say, amidst those people from which you seek approval, “I trust God with my identity and it does not matter what they say, do, or think about me.”?

3. FEAR OF LOSING CANDY
A few years ago, we were at our city’s 4th of July (Independence Day) parade. We backed our van up to the edge of the street and placed plastic bags in for each of the girls to put their candy in. We told them to run and grab the candy, place it in the bags, then run back and get more. Arianna was not having it. She clutched every piece of candy with a kung-foo like grip and was not letting go.

Fear of losing your candy is the fear of poverty. Or more accurately, it’s the insecurity of not having enough or feeling like you are lacking in an area. This may include lacking basic necessities, possessions, or relationships, or even your health.

Hebrews 13:5-6 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10 both address the need for “more”. Feeling like we are lacking in our circumstances, possessions, finances, and relationships is very unsettling.

What achievement, possession, or circumstance would make you feel successful? What have you said or done (or not said or done) to make you feel content or secure? When is it the easiest for you to be content in your circumstances, relationships, or achievements? How would you feel if you were unable to work?

I find it interesting that the Hebrews passage contrasts trusting in financial security with resting in God’s presence. But many of us, including myself, find it easier to trust the money, the medication, the doctors, the job, our health, our mind, etc. rather than acknowledging, seeking, and thanking God. He is the one who ultimately gave us all of those things.

How many of us have a kung-foo grip on what we think is security and comfort yet our lack peace in our hearts and lives?

So what happens if you find yourself in the face of fearing the unknown, fearing people, or fearing poverty? Next week we will answer this question and give you practical steps to live a free, joy-filled life amidst any fear.

OUR PRAYER & PRAISE REPORT

Ireland Plans
Please join us in prayer as we continue to solidly plans for this summer in general and Ireland in particular.

Sick
Both Lacey and I woke up yesterday (Sunday) with head colds. I had just gotten over one last week so I am not so happy. Please pray for good health as we hope to end this school year strong.

Nathan’s Health
With the exception of an ongoing cold, we have been incredibly thankful for God’s hand in Nathan’s health the past few months. Join us in thanking God for His provision.

God bless,
Mountain View
Nathan & Lacey Steel
Lydia & Arianna

P.S. We would love to hear back from you. If you have any comments from this week’s email or prayer requests you would like to share with us, our email is: hello@nathanlaceysteel.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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