I became a Christian halfway through my 3 years at Second College (I went to college elsewhere for 2 years, took 2 years off, and transferred to a new school to finish).
Initially, I was amazed. God revealed Himself to me, daily, in big ways and little ways.
He came through.
He showed Himself strong.
He was faithful.
Then life happened. I made some bad choices. I didn’t ask God for His help in certain areas. And I found myself in a destructive, and yet familiar, relationship with a woman who “needed my help.”
It’s no secret that I was gay-identified for almost a decade. By the time I came to know Jesus, my identity was firmly planted in being gay. It was who I was, and it was what I knew. It was familiar. It was comfortable in its discomfort (as I talked about last week).
I didn’t know anything else but being gay. So when this relationship began, it simply stood to reinforce my fear: the fear of the unknown.
The fear of the unknown is a powerful force. It keeps us in unhealth because the unhealth we know is familiar. It’s a known pain, a known chaos.
It also keeps us in situations that aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but are not God’s best for us. They are not the next step in God’s plan.
Fear of the unknown keeps us chained.
It keeps us from moving forward.
It keeps us from our Promised Land.
Exodus 14 begins with the Israelites camped by the Red Sea. Pharaoh decided he made a mistake in letting the Israelites go and began to follow them.
We pick up the story in verse 10:
As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
People stay in or run back to miserable situations because of the fear of the unknown. The above quote from the Israelites is a perfect example of that.
I was a perfect example of this. The woman I was in a relationship with had a lot of problems. I had a lot of problems. Even in the best of circumstances, we would have made a horrible match! Underneath that rebellious choice to enter into a relationship that I knew to be wrong was a broken child crying out to her heavenly father, “Are You really enough for me? Can I leave behind everything I’ve known and built my life upon for the unknown that is a relationship with You?”
I have to remember, as I read the above passage, that the Israelites were just beginning to walk out of generations of slavery. It was all they had ever experienced. It was all they knew. They had no context for the Promised Land.
Continuing on in Exodus:
But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”
Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened a path through the water for the Israelites. In my case, my girlfriend dumped me, and I decided, painstakingly, one-step-at-a-time, to choose to trust God, not only in the area of my sexuality, but also with my whole life.
When God calls us to something new, it’s not surprising that we will experience fear. Like the Israelites, we have no context for this new journey; all we have is context for the old one. The “what if’s”, the questions, the obstacles – they overwhelm us. They keep us standing still.
But in those moments, you have a choice: stick with the pain you know, or choose to trust God and forge ahead into the pain you don’t know. The latter is a choice to trust that God is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. It’s a choice to believe that He must have something better for you, that this can’t be all there is, that if He’s asking you to move forward, then He will carry us through.
If you are overcome by a fear of the unknown today, surrender it to God. Give Him your questions and hesitations; He’s not afraid of them. Then, stand by. Wait and see how God will fight for you and what He wants to accomplish for you. And “do it afraid”, as Joyce Meyer says. As God commanded the Israelites, go forward, despite the fear. Do not let fear of the unknown paralyze you or keep you from living in the fullness of all God has for you.
I’m praying Romans 15:13 for you today: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”