I know the year is brand new, but I have to ask, are you feeling overwhelmed?
Believe it or not, even experts tell us they feel overwhelmed and under equipped on occasion. I recently read this in a daily devotional from Anne Graham Lotz: “Again and again, I’ve been confronted with hard choices when I’ve had to throw caution to the wind and abandon myself to faith in Him, and Him alone…”
In Ephesians 3:8, Paul talks about his lack of expertise, and how he was the least qualified among the disciples. He continues with:
God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head,… [Eph. 3:8-9 The Message]
Overwhelmed: to overcome in thought or feeling; totally submerged. The ancient word, “whelm” means to engulf entirely, as with water. Interestingly, the word “helmet” comes from this word, but I’m getting distracted by an attractive rabbit trail. 🙂
Whether we’re totally submerged in fear, doubt, or feelings of incompetence, we shouldn’t regard it as a stone wall or a dead end. Many among the famous suffer fear and doubt, but the key is, they don’t let it hinder them. They step out anyway, like Peter stepping out of the boat, onto the water. He wanted to walk on water like Jesus, but fear and doubt overwhelmed him.
Another key is found in Ephesians 3:12, “When we trust in Him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.”
Did anyone else think of Star Trek? “…to boldly go where no man has gone before…”
Paul’s response is to get down on his knees and pray. He recognizes that he can do nothing on his own, but he can do all things through Christ. He can do whatever needs to be done, whether he is personally qualified, or not.
A few years back, I was working for a civil engineering company. I had worked for almost six years as a secretary/receptionist, but I had done almost every clerical job in the place. I did whatever was asked of me, even filled in for the bookkeeper in her absence. When that position opened under its new title of business office manager, it was offered to me first, but I was afraid. I didn’t feel qualified. So another person was hired.
Turns out, this person had lied about her qualifications when she applied for the job, so, I ended up doing most of the work, for which she took credit. She received the business office manager’s salary, though I was actually the one doing most of the work. When it was discovered, she lost her job, and the position was given to me. I still didn’t feel qualified. Many times, I struggled with fear and doubt. But I kept going. I took classes and earned certificates. I became qualified.
This didn’t really lessen my fear, but I did feel more equipped to do the job. And years later, the experience helped me get other jobs. If I had listened to my “inner” voice, and spent time in prayer about this, I probably would have accepted the position, saving myself and the company a lot of time and trouble down the road.
My conclusion is that it’s human to battle overwhelming feelings of fear. If you’re a person with a normal (not overblown) ego, you will have to fight that battle often. I’ve dealt with fear every time I step onto a plane, or head someplace I’ve never been. It’s daunting. But when I face these circumstances with faith, after spending time in prayer and listening, I have the strength to push past that fear.
Queen Esther had to battle fear in her circumstances. If you know her story, you know the reason for her fear. She could die, simply by approaching the king (her husband) without being called into his presence. But the overwhelming element was this: if she didn’t approach the king, the entire Hebrew population could die. All of her family and friends. And, as her Uncle Mordecai told her, she would not be safe either, if the secret of her lineage became known.
How did she overcome her fear? The Bible tells us she declared a fast, spent time in prayer, and listened. She heard from God, who gave her the plan that would save not only her life, but an entire nation.
Sometimes, it comes down to this: What if I don’t go? What will the consequences be? Who will suffer besides me? Esther stepped out in faith. Peter also did, but his emotions overcame his faith and he went under. Jesus didn’t let him drown, however. So my take-away from that story is, Jesus won’t let me drown in my insecurities. With each new experience, my faith is built and stretched. If I fail, I’m stronger for having tried.
What is your most overwhelming fear? How do you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s an excellent blog written by a friend of mine, especially for those who face fear: Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior Blog