“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.””
Deuteronomy 3:22 NIV
I’m stood in the middle of a field, palms are sweaty and the sound of my breath echoes around my head as of I’m standing in a cave filled with never-ending reverb. I clutch my weapon for the afternoon and can feel my heart pounding as the taste of fear pierces my dry mouth. Not to sound dramatic but this is how I often feel when I play cricket, about to bat for the first time in a year. I’m often gripped by fear thinking what if I get out or let my team down – don’t look stupid Dave.
Or at least that’s how I normally feel. I wouldn’t say I normally hear from God about to play sport but today was somewhat different. I wasn’t feeling too great, I’d been horribly ill the day before, and I’d come into the day on some bad news – the sort of news that you didn’t really want to hear and that you hoped would never come. I sat on the sideline dejected waiting for the opportunity to go and out and bat. It was there that I decided that due to the mitigating factors of life I’m not going to worry about getting out but instead play without fear – for what is fearing in cricket compared to the great meandering journey of life. Who knew that this very process God would use to challenge me.
I strode out to the wicket and played without fear. First ball I noticed the confidence in my stance. Third ball I hit to the boundary for my first four in what feels like a lifetime – I notice I feel more free than I have in long time whilst someone is throwing a hard leather ball at you trying to knock over three pieces of wood behind you. Quite remarkably I ended up hitting my best knock since secondary school and left the field unbeaten at the end of the innings. As I left the field I was quite amazed at the feeling of freedom of lacking fear and amazed at the result – it was there that God spoke to me so clearly, something that happens rarely. I suddenly felt challenged into why I lived with so much fear in my own life, far above the microcosm of a cricket field. For in cricket when I’m scared I become tepid and weak and I suddenly realised its the same for life. I felt God ask me why do I live with so much fear in my life when all it does is cripples and limits the gifts He has given me. It was there I was reminded that some of the most used words in the Bible are ‘Do not be afraid’ because we know that God is with us.
I realise that I get scared about too many things (one of them ironically is admitting that I’m scared of admitting that I’m scared) – whether it be what does the future hold? or what do people thinking of me? Will this issue be resolved or what job should I be doing? But I know from experience that when I’m confident in God rather than being crippled by fear and failure I do my best wok for him. I’m painfully aware that as a younger Christian I was amazed at what God did because I had less fear – but as I’ve become broken and Scarred through the challenges of life it has caused me to change. But perhaps like my performance in cricket I need to stop, remember that God is with me and instead of worrying what may happen if I fail, be prepared to to step up and be amazed by what God does rather than remain bound by fear. It was this that God challenged to change right there as I left the field. It reminds me of the story of the spies in the bible Moses sent into the promised land – most of the spies came back and said the enemy was too great. Only Joshua and Caleb lifted their eyes to God and saw he was bigger and looked what happened – it wasn’t easy but if they hadn’t of done that Isareal might never have made it to the promised land.
It doesn’t mean that we will always be successful if we lose our fear – but there is a freedom to fully express ourselves in all that God has made us to be and when we step out in faith, no matter how hard it is, we know God is with us. I so often forget how powerful our God is and that so often my biggest failing as a Christian isn’t knowing that God is strong – it’s letting that truth seep into the actions of my life. One of my favourite pastors once said
“Better to step out in faith and get it wrong than always wonder”