The military drills procedures over and over again. The idea is that in the event fear strikes, the brain and body has been trained to do a particular sequence of tasks. Even though the conscious thought process is frozen, a sailor, soldier, airman, or marine will fall back on what was learned and act accordingly. The military isn’t the only group that believes drilling over and over again is the way to go. We see this a lot with the top professional athletes. All of them are looking to build a foundation to be able to respond as they want to when they are in stressful situations, especially ones that cause the emotion of fear. So what about Christians?
Our foundation is, and always has been, Jesus Christ. When our foundation is a Person and not a procedure, we need to approach building the foundation differently. It’s not about how many times I can recite a particular prayer. We’re warned against doing that. Nor is it about how many verses I memorize, at least, not directly. Instead of working on steps, we need to be working on relationship. The closer we are to Jesus, the stronger our foundation against fear.
And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” – Matthew 8:25, ESV
In this particular case the disciples were with our Lord. They were as close to Him as they could be. However, it goes beyond physical proximity. Note that they woke Him because they believed Jesus could save them. They believed their lives were on the line. And they believed He was the only one who could do something about it. How do you gain such confidence? The Bible tells us it’s about developing that relationship and getting to know and trust God more and more. When we try to fight fear with our own efforts, we can make things much worse than they are. Trusting God is essential.
Jacob learned that lesson when he was facing a reunion with Esau. Gideon learned it as God pared down his army to just 300 men. David learned it as he stayed one step ahead of Saul. The disciples learned it when Jesus calmed the water, when He appeared to them after His crucifixion, and when He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in them. Paul learned it as he recovered from floggings and a stoning, as he faced a snake bite, as he was imprisoned, and as he went to preach a final sermon, to Nero, knowing that would be the end of his race.
The beginning of our ability to truly overcome fear in our lives starts with building up our relationship with Jesus Christ. This requires more than church attendance or a Bible study habit. This comes about through a genuine love for our Savior and a desire to put Him first in all things. It seems like everything with respect to the Christian walk comes back to those things. That’s because they do. Focus on Christ and not your own efforts. Tomorrow we’ll look at what happens when out of response to fear we resort to our own schemes. They don’t work. So let us focus on Jesus, who does.