Summary: Unhealthy fear.
I had so many people ask me about climbing Kilimanjaro that I thought it would be helpful to give you a glimpse of the trip. I want to thank you again for praying for me. During the all-night hike as we pushed toward the summit I thought several times about how many of you were praying for me. It was a huge encouragement. I also thought about the kids who would have classrooms as a result of the money we raised. All-together our group raised $140,000 and that can build quite a few classrooms in Kenya!
Pam and I were incredibly impressed by the ministry in Kenya. It’s one of the most fruitful mission efforts we’ve ever seen. There’s still time to go with our team this summer. I hope you’ll consider it! You can more information at the Connect counter.
In a left-handed way, I also thought that climbing Kilimanjaro might set the stage for what I want to talk about today. This is the final message in our Soul Detox series. Throughout this series we’ve been addressing some of the major things that prevent us from experiencing the full and robust life that God offers us. Thus far, we’ve considered the self-destructive lies that we think about ourselves. We’ve also talked about anger, bitterness and the power of our words to build people up or tear people down. Today I’d like to wrap up this series by considering fear.
Now, to be honest I was never really afraid about climbing Kilimanjaro. I knew it would be hard and I knew that I would be sore for a few weeks afterward. But even so I’d still like for that 19,000 foot mountain to represent for you whatever it is that makes you fearful. We all have things that make out stomach twist. What are those things for you? Do you know what makes me fearful? Let me list four of them for you…
1. Jumping off high places. Dude, I don’t even like jumping off the three meter diving board…that’s how much I don’t like jumping off high places!
2. Public speaking. Now, I know this may surprise you because I speak for a living. But I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my stomach has twisted into knots down in front before I get up to speak.
3. Concern for my adult kids. I have four adult children and at any given time it seems at least one of them is making decisions that can stress me out. As a parent, you never stop loving your kids no matter how old they are…and you never stop aching for them when they make unwise decisions.
4. Will I have enough for retirement? I’m 62 years old and plan to keep serving at Summit for many years. But at this stage of the game, I find myself thinking a lot about how Pam and I will do whenever I step away from being a Lead Pastor. If I let my mind go down the wrong road this concern easily slips into fear.
So, what is it that causes you to be afraid? What is it that keeps you up at night with your mind spinning? Now some kinds of fear are helpful. For example, it can be helpful to be afraid of burning yourself or cutting yourself. But other kinds of fear can be unhelpful. For example, I think some of us have an unhealthy fear of loss. And these fears can paralyze us if we don’t overcome them. Perhaps we fear…
• losing our job
• or we fear losing a child or a friend
• or we fear a financial loss
• or we fear losing control.
Do you have an unhealthy fear about losing something or someone? One way to determine if your fear is unhealthy is if you fixate on it so much that it consumes you. I want you to think about this. Do you have an unhealthy fear about loss?
Other people have an unhealthy fear of failure. And this can keep us from trying new things. I’ve known people who were petrified to start anything new because they were so afraid of coming up short. And I suspect that some of us in this room have a fear of failure that keeps you from experiencing many good things in life. So, I want you to think about this. Do you have unhealthy fear of failure that’s preventing you from stepping out in ways that could honor God?
A third area of fear for some of us is the fear of rejection and abandonment. This fear can be paralyzing in relationships because it makes it nearly impossible to trust people. Some of us have difficulty developing friendships or experiencing intimacy in marriage because we have this deep fear of being rejected…and then this fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when people actually do reject us. But many times we fail to understand that their rejection is caused, in part, by the subtle signals of fear that we send that keep people at an arms distance.