Five days away from VOUS Conference 2017, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. started this special week with communion – a time to reflect, observe, and worship God for all the amazing things he has done for us. Closing the collections of talks on Acts of the Apostles, Creative Director Luke Barry delivered a powerful and timely message about fear: Shipwrecked, Stranded, & Unshaken.
Fear is hard to define and describe and we’re often given vague descriptions about what it is. To some, fear is being afraid, to others, fear is an unpleasant emotion or reaction to something external. But, for many, fear is often much deeper and subtler a “what-if” kind of experience that causes us to question what if things go wrong or what if things change? Anxiety causes us to question what will happen in the future.
In an act of transparency and accountability, Luke openly shared two of his personal fears—fears that so many of us could relate to and the solution to those fears.
Fear of Failure
With this fear, we often stay away from trying too hard or giving too much. We apply minimal effort to tasks so that whether we fail or succeed we don’t have to be held responsible for the outcomes. We train our minds to believe that if we never try maybe we’ll never fail.
Fear of Loss
With the fear of loss, we train ourselves not to love or not or care about anything or anyone. As our love grows deeper, our fear of loss grows wider because we have more to lose. We find ourselves more susceptible to loss and the heartbreak that accompanies it. But, this is a self-defeating exercise because “Not to love is to lose”.
The Book of Acts displays numerous accounts of faith in the face of fear and perseverance in the face of persecution. On his way to Italy, Paul faces a great storm—The Northeaster. This storm was too great and came with such a force that it was too strong to face head on. Like this storm, fear comes at us with such force that we feel powerless against it. This feeling of powerlessness leaves us at a standstill, disabling any move forward. It is often not the storms that surround us but the storms that rage within us that cause us great fear and disease.
In the midst of the storm, Paul is encouraged by an angel to not be afraid for God has given him the responsibility for the lives of all who sailed with him. Shipwrecked, Paul comforts the people and leads the other 275 passengers to the Island of Malta where, despite being stranded, all their lives were saved. Paul’s fears of the storm translated into an unshakeable faith in God— the only match for the powerful Northeaster. Fear and faith are two side of the same coin, but faith arises when that fear is of God – a reverence of God. Much like real strength comes with weakness, new life with death, faith in God comes with reverential fear of God.
The faith that comes from the fear of God gives way to supernatural peace. Louisa May Alcott once said “I’m not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship.” With the fear of God and faith in his promise you will never sail the tumultuous seas alone. So, what is fear?
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