Dean Kuest – Glendale Campus Pastor
I am writing this on an airplane flying from Seattle to Phoenix after spending the weekend in Mill Creek, WA celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Pathways Church. It was eleven years ago that my family left fourteen years of ministry at Central’s Mesa Campus (our only campus at the time) to move across the country and plant a church from scratch. Our baby is now ten years old.
As I was preparing for the anniversary message, I reflected on the fear that overwhelmed me as we began that journey. What if I fail? What if I can’t support my family? What if? What if? What if? There were hundreds of them. But Jesus met us in our “what if’s” and provided a faith that exceeded our fear. I have never felt more like a tight rope walker without a net. It was exhilarating and God was never more real to my family as He met us in tangible ways with each leap of faith.
Then something happened…as our church became more established, slowly our decision-making became more about protecting what we had than about new leaps that God was calling us to take. We began downsizing our leaps of faith to mere steps of faith. Soon steps of faith became inching as fear, disguised as reason, told us that we should not risk what had already been established. As if to say that we already had faith once, we don’t need to live in it perpetually.
It didn’t happen all at once. In fact, I’m not sure I even recognized it until engaging with Jamie Winship in October as he asked us to name our greatest fears. I couldn’t name just one – there were too many.
My life has always been a wrestling match with fear. To tell you the truth, I don’t have a pre-second grade memory that was not ingrained in my long-term memory by something other than fear. My first real memory is of chickens bursting through a backyard hedge nearly stopping the heart of my sub-two-year old self. There were the multiple dog encounters that can still make my chest tight as I recall them. It was the “Playground Bullys” that put my fear over the top; however, being chased home from Harold W. Smith Elementary School by older kids set me on edge for years anytime I left the close confines of the street I grew on. Fear seemed to reside in my shadow, always ready and available whenever my imagination called for it to enter the scene of my young life.
When I stop and examine my fears, in cognitive ways, rather than emotionally, I recognize that fear exerts itself in areas where I fail to believe that God is enough. Fear becomes the Goliath that an entire Israelite army refused to engage because his size outmatched their view of God. It was a little guy named David that had faith bigger than himself, bigger than Goliath and big enough to step into battle with a sling and a few rocks, all because he believed God was enough.
I needed this reminder. I shared it with our friends in Seattle. I’m sharing it now with you because I know I’m going to need a reminder again. It’s like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics informs us – all things move from order to disorder without a reintroduction of energy. Chaos does not become more organized over time and fear does not take on more faith over time. Instead, faith moves toward fear unless another ingredient it introduced to the equation – a heavy dose of God’s truth.
What are you most afraid of? Ask Jesus to tell you what it is. Listen to Him. Write it down. Then claim God’s truth that He is far bigger than your fear. He is able to meet you in it and overcome. I know it is time for my inches to become steps and my steps to become leaps once again. Want to join me?