Healthy Fear vs. Self-Sufficiency

Post by Chris Hartenstein
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with these people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it.  It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” 

Deuteronomy 31:7-8
Have you ever said to someone, “I will figure it out. It’s all good,” meanwhile, your chest gets tight with fear, and your mind runs non-stop riddled with anxiety? In those moments, we refuse to admit our need for help by entering into an endless void of self-sufficiency, “I can do this on my own.” And, in this void, we hold onto “our” lives so tightly that we forget the truth; we have a heavenly Father who already has exactly what we need, offering real life, true hope, and a good future.

In Deuteronomy, God names Joshua the successor of Moses, the great leader whom God chose to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt. Can you imagine? The leader of Israel, God’s chosen people, handing the torch of leadership to you, declaring you as the person who will lead Israel into the promised land and beyond. What an enormous responsibility. What do you think your immediate reaction would be if you stood in Joshua’s shoes?

If we are honest with ourselves, an underlying emotion we would all experience is fear. In a position similar to Joshua’s, we have two options: live out of healthy fear and dependency on our heavenly Father or lean into our self-sufficiency, which often leads to living a life riddled with anxieties full of both unrealistic and unnecessary expectations of ourselves and others.

When Moses declares Joshua’s new leadership to the entirety of Israel, he most likely has an understanding of Joshua’s choice between healthy fear and self-sufficiency. He speaks courage into Joshua’s life, reminding him of his need and fostering belief and hope amidst the unspoken inevitability of fear along the journey. Moses says, “You will be afraid, and when you are, choose to acknowledge your need. Then, have faith because the LORD has gone before you. You only need to be obedient and follow Him.” Although Joshua’s journey plays out far from perfect, he leads the people of Israel into the promised land, choosing to depend on his heavenly Father through his fear, rather than resorting to self-sufficiency.

We, like Joshua, make this choice repeatedly and daily. Our lives will never be void of fear. Yet, we can overcome fear and choose to be dependent, faithful, and hopeful by acknowledging our need and receiving our heavenly Father’s perfect provision, protection and following his plan. He offers us a life where we can be present, watching His perfect plan for us unfold, rather than letting fear paralyze us to live a numbed life of self-sufficiency and control. Life to the full is offered from our Father, and all we need to do is step up into it, relying on him to bring it about.

  • What areas of your life are you fearful? Up to this point, How have you responded? Are       you walking through the fear in dependence or are you relying on your own self-                     sufficiency?
  • How can you re-calibrate yourself to live a life more dependent on your heavenly Father’s       provision? In what areas do you need to release control?
  • Who in your life could you share your fears with and ask them to keep you accountable           in staying hopeful and dependent while you live through fear?

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