What Do You Fear Most?

Your life will be controlled by your greatest fears.

What do you fear most? Probably for most of us, the answer to that question is some kind of relationship-oriented fear, such as losing the life of a loved one, or getting divorced, or not ever getting married, etc.

Or perhaps it’s a financial fear. Or career fear. Or social fear (loneliness, not belonging to a certain group, etc.). Or a health-related fear.

We all have these fears. That’s a normal part of life in a fallen world. But have we let them become our greatest fear?

These fears are common in all of us. And yet, when they become our greatest fears, they enslave us. And in a weird way, they often become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I first became aware of this principle when I was in college and involved with a campus Christian ministry there. There was a college girl who had also gotten involved her freshman year. The summer before, her twin sister was killed in a late-night car accident when out drinking and driving with friends. Of course, her parents were devastated. But they allowed their fear of the same thing happening to their remaining daughter to control their lives.

For example, they would not let their daughter travel with our ministry to various conferences. And as a result, she wasn’t really able to connect with the ministry as much as she wanted, and so she was unable to benefit from the best opportunities for good, life-changing teaching and relationships. When we all went to exciting conferences and retreats, she had to go home to her small town instead.

So eventually, by her senior year in college, she had slipped away in her Christian faith. She ended up with the wrong kind of friends on the wrong night and, almost exactly four years to the date of her sister’s tragic accident, she too was killed in a tragic car accident while out drinking and driving with friends. In a weird way, her parents’ greatest fear became so enslaving that it set into course a series of events that led to their fear’s fulfillment. That’s what I mean by a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A person whose greatest fear is that they will not get married will end up being controlled by that fear, and therefore act in such a way that makes them less attractive and desirable to the right kind of spouse.

A person so controlled by their fears of losing a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend will act in such a way that pushes the other away relationally. Their controlling fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s weird how that works. But that’s how it works.

I think there are also spiritual reasons for the self-fulfilling prophecy principle. When something other than God becomes our greatest fear, then Satan will use that fear to keep us from fully seeking/trusting/giving our lives over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I can never really trust Christ with my greatest fears if my greatest fear is something other than him. Impossible. Because that which you fear MOST, you fear most because it threatens what is MOST valuable—MOST important—MOST cherished to you.

Fear and insecurity is Satan’s deceptive power to manipulate and eventually destroy us. Fears of losing something or someone, or not getting something or someone. Fears of something bad happening or something we want not happening.

It’s how he gains control over us and keeps us away from—keeps us running from—the One who truly loves us—the One who is the Author of Life—the only One who can restore our lives to everything our heart truly longs for whether we realize it or not.

It’s always a good question to ask ourselves: How is Satan using fear and insecurity to manipulate me? What are the ways that Satan is working through my fears—my insecurities—to manipulate me and gain control over my life so he can destroy it/me?

Your life will be controlled—enslaved—by what you fear most, if what you fear most is something other than God.

That’s why I think the phrase, “Don’t be afraid,” is the most oft-repeated command in the entire Bible. That says something big about how much fear and insecurity negatively control our lives in ways we’re not even aware of. It makes you wonder what our lives would be like if we weren’t so controlled by fear.

I am always comforted when reminded of what God said to Abraham in Genesis 15:1 NIV—
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

God and his kingdom is my greatest reward. And pretty much all of my life’s journey—all of my spiritual growth—is the lifelong process of learning that—living that.

This is why we read the command to “Fear the Lord” over and over in the Bible.

I like how Tim Keller explains what that means—

Obviously, to be in the fear of the Lord is not to be scared of the Lord, even though the Hebrew word has overtones of respect and awe. “Fear” in the Bible means to be overwhelmed, to be controlled by something. To fear the Lord is to be overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and his love. It means that, because of his bright holiness and magnificent love, you find him “fearfully beautiful.” That is why the more we experience God’s grace and forgiveness, the more we experience a trembling awe and wonder before the greatness of all that he is and has done for us. Fearing him means bowing before him out of amazement at his glory and beauty. Paul speaks of the love of Christ “constraining” us (2 Corinthians 5:14). What is it that most motivates and moves you?

Keller, Timothy (2011-11-01). The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (pp. 59-60). Kindle Edition.

So Jesus promises us in Matthew 6:33 TNIV—
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

The only way to overcome our controlling fears is to choose to believe the gospel and trust Jesus. Trusting Jesus even with our fears empowers us NOT to be controlled by them. We can say as often as we need to in prayer: “Lord, I’m afraid of ______, but I give you those fears. I trust you with those fears. Your will for me is best, and your love for me is more intense than I have any idea. So I trust you with these fears because YOU are what matters to me MOST. And I would rather lose ______ than lose YOU. I would rather not have ______ than not have your kingdom forever.”

You don’t have to believe that 100% before you pray it. Quite the opposite. You pray it because you don’t believe it 100%. I never believe anything 100%. But by praying even in your doubts, you’re confessing to God your controlling fears, you’re bringing these fears to the One who loves you, and you’re actively submitting yourself to his Lordship and asking God to increase your faith through these prayers. You’re learning to let worship control your life rather than fear. You’re learning to live vertically rather than merely horizontally.

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