Following hard after God can be a scary thing. In fact, judging from the multitude of times God, his angels, and his servants use the phrase “Don’t be afraid” we might take our fears as an indication we are right where God wants us! Following God is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage. It takes faith.
Following God induces fear because he calls us out of our comfort zone. He calls us beyond our abilities, our previous experiences, our training, and our education. He often calls us beyond our current belief systems. He calls us to do things that appear foolish to the world and often foolish to us.
Simon Peter and his crew were professional fisherman who had fished all night and not caught a single fish. They knew that what Jesus told them to do was a foolish waste of time and energy. They knew they would appear foolish to their friends and fellow fishermen. They knew it would do no good, but in spite of their knowledge they obeyed and through their obedience God revealed his power.
Mary knew that she, being a virgin, simply could not have a baby and she most certainly knew that becoming pregnant while unmarried would be tragic, perhaps even fatal. She knew that to the world she was a fool. But God’s words of comfort, “Do not be afraid”, gave her the courage to face her fears and in faith acknowledge “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done unto me according to your word.”
You may be sensing some fear about the still, small voice within calling you to a deeper experience of God’s eternal love for you and for the world. Take courage in the fact that God’s servants have been feeling these same doubts and fears since Old Testament times. They are a normal part of our growth in Christ. Your fears are not a surprise or a disappointment to God. He knows he is calling us to stretch beyond our abilities and our beliefs. That’s why one of the most common phrases in our Bible is “Don’t be afraid.”
So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
-Paul in Philippians 2:12