I remember as a kid gripping the pool deck in fear, yet wanting so bad to enjoy swimming. So, I would move hand over hand pulling myself around the pool ever-eyeing all those other kids, some even younger, splashing about, jumping off the diving board and stroking effortlessly across the pool. I wanted so badly to swim, but this powerful fear kept me glued to the deck. That fear would turn in to great frustration and even terror when someone would not move as I was inching my way around the poolside, so careful not to lose my grip and there having to take that lunge of faith to reach around them.
I hated being so scared and wondered if I would ever be able to let go. I tried a few times in the shallow end were I could touch the bottom of the pool, but that lack of confidence kept me in arms reach of the poolside. I was pathetic, but held out hope that somehow this fear would loosen enough for me release my grip and least try. It happened one summer day, sitting disgusted with myself on the pool deck, watching everyone having so much fun. I let go of my fear slid into the pool and launched out into the deep end.
Fear has a way of gripping us and holding us back. Now, I am not talking about that fearful respect of the water or fire, or dangerous ventures where healthy fear keeps us from major harm. The fear I am talking about is that debilitating fear that holds us back from growth and experiencing all that God has for us in life. Because, like learning to swim most any worthwhile, life-challenging, growth creating venture takes the risk of overcoming fear. What if that relationship does not last? What if that new job turns more difficult than expected? What if the sacrifice is really difficult to learn that new talent? The list of ‘what ifs’ is endless. The clench of fear tightens and the poolside becomes more comfortable than the freedom of letting go.
God as a lot to say about the grip of fear…
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
God’s help is available if we are willing to turn towards Him and trust Him. God is amazing and wants us to enjoy the thrill of the life He has for us, but it does take us letting go of our entitled, self-focused notions and reach for Him.
Proverbs 3:5-7 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
This ‘fear of the Lord’ is not an afraid fear, but a reverent respect that God is awesome, amazing, and all-powerful and deserving of obedient honor. It is the letting go of devotion to other things and being dedicated to God and His way of life. This reverence of God is also letting go of debilitating fear of our world with disease, cancer, the economy, government, wars, the future, what’s going to happen with our families and trust in a loving God who really does care for us.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.
In an encounter with Jesus, a religious leader so desperate to save his little girl’s life came to Jesus, who had worked amazing miracles on others, might help is precious little girl. Jesus was on His way when work came it was too late. This man’s greatest fear was being realized. Yet Jesus said…
Mark 5:36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
You can read the full story in the Bible book of Mark 5:21-42. Belief in the Lord makes a difference.
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
I am not sure what fears have gripped you, but I do know that letting go and swimming in the pool of God’s way of life is amazing!
Once I let go of that poolside I grew into a fairly good swimmer. Joined a swim team and even qualified for the Junior Olympics. I love the water and feel at home and free no longer held back by fear. I have felt that same way in my life with God.
Church is one of those places where we can let go and enjoy God. If you do not already have a church you regularly attend, please feel invited to our church. Our website has information about our various campuses and online sermons.