So this is another one of those posts that I find difficult to write. Now it is not that is it controversial, or that I am lacking in Scripture to back up what I am writing, but more just that I don't know exactly how to put into words. And like so many before, I am just gong to dive in, writing as much as I can, and pray that the Holy Spirit will use me in this time, and that the end result will be clear.
A couple Sundays ago, Tyler spoke about restoring honor to the body of Christ, the Church, and to the individuals we meet every day, both in the Church. And at the end of the sermon, we were given time to talk to each other and encourage each other, pour forth honor onto our brothers and sisters. Well one of my good friends came up to me, and she told me that she has seen me as being fearless. Fearless in how I pursue the Lord, fearless in taking up whatever mission God has given me, and simply unafraid to change the direction of my life in order to serve Jesus.
Now that was probably the most encouraging things that anyone has told me. Seriously, I was not expecting that at all, and it left me kinda fumbling for words to honor her. But then on that Wednesday at Lifegroup, we did the same thing in small groups after a discussion and another good friend told me basically the EXACT same thing. He told me that I reminded him of Joshua, the successor to Moses and the leader of the army of Israel as they cleansed the earth of the Canaanite people. The book of Joshua reads like fiction, and it is crazy the things that God was doing with the people of Israel, and with Joshua as the leader. So much that happens doesn't even make any sense, and yet Joshua does not question the authority of God, and pushed forward with everything, trusting completely in the grace of the Lord, knowing that God does not break his promises and he has nothing to be afraid of. Obviously, this is something that Jesus wants me to know, something that Jesus wants me to be encouraged about.
But that was Joshua, commanding an army. I am just a student at Texas A&M University; I don't have enemies, I don't have people trying to kill me, I don't have anyone to be afraid of, none of us do. So what exactly does it mean to be fearless?
Well here are just a couple verses that I really like:
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
~ Psalm 118:5-7
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
~ 1 John 4:16-18
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
~ Luke 12:4-5
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread."
~ Isaiah 8:13
So looking at these verses, what do they tell you? They all speak truth individually, but when you look at them all together, they really mean so much more.
so what does it mean to be fearless? It begins by looking the world in the face as saying that there is nothing that the world can do to me that will take me away from the love of Jesus and the gift of Heaven waiting for me. There is no reason to be afraid of anything, because if there is anything on this earth that others are afraid of, we have God as our helper to take away our fear. But not only that, we have the love of God living within us, and it is this love that makes us complete. With the Holy Spirit living within us, we are made whole once again, able to connect with God in a deep, intimate way, and it is this connection, this love that burns deep inside us, that casts out fear and tells us that we have no reason to be afraid.
So why do we have no reason to be afraid? We know that our salvation is guaranteed. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that when we put our faith and devotion in Jesus Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our salvation. And we know that once we are saved, there is nothing that can take that away from us. Though Satan's armies may torment us on this earth, the faith we have, and the Spirit inside, keeps us safe from eternal damnation. And yet, we also recognize the infinite power of our King. We know that God has the power to condemn people to an eternity separated from Him, and for this reason we are to fear Him. Hell really is the only thing we should fear, because Hell is separation from God. But not even Hell has the power to cause us fear, because we have been saved from it, and we can be assured of this. Only God, who has the power to send anyone to Hell, should be feared, because he has the power to separate any one of us from Him and his perfect love.
So now what does that mean for us, for me? Well, first, the fact that my friends saw a supernatural lack of fear in me tells me that there is something about the way that I fearlessly pursue the Lord that they don't see in everyone. They were encouraged by how I seek to bring Him glory in everything, and with everything I do I put God first, and when God begins to reveal the next step of His plan for me, I am unafraid to say "yes" to Jesus. I do not let this world tell me that I shouldn't become a pastor, because God has told me I should, and I know that if God has approved it, then he has already blessed my future for it. There is no reason to be afraid, or to worry about how or when I will make these changes to my life, because I know that God will tell me when the time is right, and He will surely bless me for it.
But I also see one very specific reason why God wanted me to know this now. An incredible opportunity has just opened up for me, for this following summer.
St. Petersburg, Russia. More than a year ago God laid Russia on my heart and I felt like at some point God would send me there. I have be praying that God would send missionaries to Russia to bring about revolution in that part of the world, and he has answered my prayers. But not only that, he wants me to be there, and I have fearlessly told him "yes". This summer I will be going with a team to St. Petersburg to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his death, his resurrection, and to teach of who we are in Jesus, how we have been freed from sin that we might go and sin no more.
But here's the thing, this trip is going to be expensive, and I can't do this alone. I trust that God's will for me is good, and that if He wants me to go to Russia, then He will provide me the money to go, because I simply cannot afford this trip by myself. And so I am asking now for donations to fund this mission trip, to proclaim the name of Jesus to the nations. So if you would have any interest in providing support for me, I would ask that you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can get it figured out from there. Thank you all, and God bless!