Any one up for a tightrope saunter?  I don’t know about you, but I can’t even barely watch the Nick Wallenda’s of the world let alone join them on their high wires.  How do we overcome fears that overwhelm us with weak knees, shallow breathing, and cold sweats?  In these moment of immobilizing panic, it is extremely difficult to not only move but to move in a positive, healing direction.

In his article “The Bridge over Troubled Waters: Overcoming Crippling Fear by Faith and Love,” Andrew provides five intentional decisions to conquering our imposing fears:

1. Name the Fear.  Face it down.

Face it and understand the fear thoughts that drive your fearful feelings. Peel back the layers of fear so you can confront the layers directly and in faith.  Look right at the fears. Name them. If you’re afraid of the boogie man under your bed, look under the bed! Your fearful feelings have thoughts attached to them. Understand the layers of fear, the “domino effect” that goes through your mind. Sometimes a massive fear underneath drives the lesser worries on the surface. Face down even the “disaster” scenario, the worst possible case.

2. Reverse the Fear.  See the Desire on the Other Side.

Find the WANTS on the other side. These are the desires that become idols when you allow them to rule your life; they are gifts from God to be received with thanksgiving, but must be held to loosely.  You must realize that fear is the reverse of desire. You are afraid of dying: you want to live. You fear your children will fail in school: you want them to succeed. You are afraid of looking foolish: you want others to see you as wise and spiritually mature. You fear rejection: you want acceptance.

3. Pray about Your Desires.

Your Father delights to give you good gifts, so you can pray confidently to Him who truly loves you and knows what is best in the most profound and eternal way. As you pray, submit your desires to the searchlight of Scripture so they can be transformed by God’s agenda.  The next step in our “formula” for defeating crippling fear is both massively important and subject to serious misunderstanding. Biblical prayer—which is the kind God answers—is never idol-driven, but motivated by God’s glory.

4. Surrender Your Desires.

What prevents a sinner, driven by his idolatrous heart, from elevating his false gods, dressing them up in the respectable garb of prayer, and working out his obsessions by worrying on his knees? The answer must be found in what the English Puritan Thomas Chalmers called, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.”  With faith in your Father’s character, release your desires to Him. Repent of your idolatrous obsessions. Tell Him that even though you want those things, you can live without them, if necessary, because you have Him. You will not allow your wants to control your heart, because Jesus Christ redeemed you with His own blood. Worship God in adoration and thanksgiving, rejoicing in the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit.

5. Love God and Others.

You have repented of the idolatry of desire that energized your fears, and in faith you have surrendered those desires to your loving Father. Now you must love—God first, and then others.  Do so according to your gifts, current opportunities, and personal calling. Choose to make praise and thanksgiving permeate your life, driving out fear. Love right now, no matter how you feel. You are free!

II Ti 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

This post is a summary of an article originally posted in The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2002.