In Judges 7, we read the story of Gideon. You probably remember the amazing story of the three hundred soldiers who defeated a Midianite army who outnumbered them 400 to 1. Before the battle, Gideon stands with his army of 30,000 men and God says to send home everyone who is afraid. Twenty thousand men–inexperienced soldiers who have done the math and knew they are facing over a hundred thousand professional soldiers–go home.
God doesn’t berate them, or shame them. Gideon doesn’t beg them to stay or offer incentives. Just a simple announcement, “If you are afraid and want out, you are free to go.” And they did.
It seemed like a rational decision. I’ll be honest, if my husband had been in that number I would have more than glad to see him home early and in one piece.
But here’s the thing. Yes, the fearful survived unscathed, but they didn’t get to participate in the victory.
I know I have had plenty of opportunities present themselves, doors that God has unmistakably opened, and I’ve gone home rather than go forward. I’m afraid I won’t measure up. I’m afraid of what it will cost. I’m afraid it will be hard.
And I miss a victory.
Here’s what I know about fear, though. It makes us take our eyes off Him. It distracts us from what He calls us to do. Fear never comes from God. Paul stresses that in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
John reiterates it 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
Perfect love, that’s the kind that God has for each of us. Fear is a sure sign we don’t grasp or trust that love or the God who demonstrates it.