Christians may desire to live with absolutely no fears, but that only happens in heaven, says Saddleback Church Teaching Pastor Tom Holladay in a Daily Devotional for Pastor Rick Warren.
In the Daily Devotional, Holladay uses the example of how God told Joseph to move Mary and Jesus from Egypt back to Israel, and the fear that Joseph likely felt.
"Imagine how scary it would be for him to obey God's command to return to Israel," says Holladay. "It was like going back into the jaws of the lion. He was going to take Mary and Jesus back to where his son's life had been in danger." Joseph went because he trusted God.
Holladay points to Psalm 56:3 (CEV), "Even when I am afraid, I keep on trusting you." The pastor explains that the verse doesn't say "if" I am afraid, but "when" I am afraid, reminding readers that life will always present challenges and fears of some kind. One might face fears about family, finances, jobs, or even how they interacted with someone during the course of the day.
"In all of these situations," says Holladay, "you have a choice to make. Are you going to let the fear control you, or are you going to take a risk of faith because you know you have a God who loves you?" The pastor says that taking that risk could mean going someplace that a believer has never gone or doing something that one has never done.
He adds that the risk could mean, "Forgiving someone you thought you couldn't forgive. It could mean leaving your job. A risk of faith could also be praying about something or deciding to trust God with a situation or a relationship you've held tight in your hand."
In a devotion previously covered by The Christian Post, Pastor Rick Warren said that God can remove spiritual defects like fear from the life of a believer. It might not be instant, but will be a gradual process that happens in steps. "He (God) doesn't just snap his fingers so that it happens instantly," said Warren. "He does it incrementally."
The Saddleback pastor used the analogy of a mushroom and an oak tree. Depending on what God is going to do for an individual, it may take a short time, like the growth of a mushroom, or a more protracted length of time, like the oak tree. "Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree?" Warren asked.
"The Holy Spirit will make changes in your life far beyond anything you thought was possible, but they're not going to happen overnight."