Obstacle 1: The Stronghold of Fear

When considering how to fast, fear can be a potentially paralyzing spirit (mentality). Whether a person is afraid of the dark, heights, roller coasters, or even clowns; for whatever reason people usually won’t go near something that they possess a fear of. Fear demands that certain things be kept at a distance even if, in reality, they could actually beneficial. Another aspect of fear is that it only discriminates in terms of what it perceives as good or bad, not what actually is good or bad.  Things that could actually be advantageous for the fearful person are kept at bay simply because the person may not understand them. This concept of fear is applied not only to new experiences but also to misunderstood ideas.

This fact was never more clear to me than when I first witnessed someone succumb to the power of genuine a phobia. What was particularly fascinating about what I witnessed was that this young lady was not only military trained, but because of her upbringing she is “no nonsense” and tough as nails in any situation…except for one apparently.

While being an intern with the urban ministry that I work for, she had the job of being a summer camp counselor. During her summer with us one of her many responsibilities was to lead her group of high school girls on an offsite camping trip with the rest of our kids for an entire week. Before we got there, our staff was briefed on her intense fear of a particular animal common to outdoor experiences, snakes. In her case, even a toy snake would send her into shock, leaving her hysterically hyperventilating and quivering in a panic. While on this trip I witnessed first hand her complete mental meltdown due to this paralyzing fear.

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It began one afternoon while she was walking her group to one of the many activities at camp. This young female soldier saw something out of the corner of her eye slither off into the bushes.  Instantly, she froze in her tracks at the sight of this creature that was actually more afraid of her than she was of it. However, to her this didn’t matter the least bit. Because she was convinced of the danger this animal posed to her very life, she would not let it near her. To her, this animal was out to get her and would stop at nothing to bring death upon her.

Intense breathing, convulsions, twitching hands, and a look of shear terror overtook her. Friends, fellow counselors, and even her own students had to rush to her aid and console this combat trained servicewoman because she was afraid of what she thought was a snake. Even more curious to me was that as we investigated the area where she saw the “snake” it turned out that she really saw the tail of a medium sized lizard as it tried to get away from her and her group. The lesson for me was that a person’s fear is not only an apprehension of a specific thing or circumstance but that the avoidance of things we fear applies to anything that is even similar to what a person is afraid of.

This is the power of fear. It will cause us to be afraid of things that we don’t understand. Not only will we have feelings of fear, but those feelings will cause us to distance ourselves from things that even remotely evoke that emotion simply because there is a resemblance. In the context of this chapter, its not snakes we fear, but ideas that we feel threaten our perspectives, or way of life.

To a person gripped with fear, any idea that seems to pose a threat to the “life” or stability of an existing idea (stronghold) is brought under attack until the cry of “retreat” is heard echoing outside the walls of our mental fortresses. New ideas are rarely allowed to enter the gates of our mental stronghold without the gatekeeper (you) giving the order to open the doors. You have to intentionally be open and humble to new ideas, especially if they challenge thoughts that were established outside of God given revelation.

Fear will cause us to reject the obvious truth of God’s Word because we don’t understand it. Concepts found in the bible that don’t fit into what we deem as “safe” for our particular doctrine are then kept out of our adopted theology, and we end up never experiencing the life God intended. Just because we don’t fully understand something, doesn’t mean it’s not good for us. If God says its good, we should take Him at His word and tear down our strongholds of fear.

Fasting requires the recognition of our fears concerning experiences and new ways of thinking. We are required to bring those thoughts low by opening up our strongholds, or rather, humbling our thoughts to the concepts revealed to us by God. However, only God can reveal to us where we have built such strongholds in our minds that are fortified with fear. Only through His direction can we begin to overcome fear with His perfect love, and faith in that love. Proper fasting further allows for this recognition and puts us in a position to cast fear out of our lives.

What are some ways you’ve seen fear dictate your actions or the actions of another person?


NEXT: Fear is Overcome By…LOVE!? 




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