Joel Stepanek

Fear Nothing.

I'll let you in on a secret: I am afraid of flying.

It isn't the awkward conversations you have with people or the free peanuts that freak me out … it is the fear of the unknown. What if something bad happens?

One little bump and I go from calm and collected to, 'This plane is going to crash, and I'm too young to die!'

Yes, I'm that dramatic, sometimes.

I think of all the things that I want to still do with my life, things that I want to accomplish, places I wanted to go; I think of children and enjoying the benefits of becoming an old man who sits on his front porch drinking lemonade and yelling at kids to get off his lawn (face it, you know that is going to be awesome).

Fear will grip me the rest of that flight. I can't focus on anything … not the weird in-flight movie or awkward conversation I am having with the person next to me. I'm gripping the armrest like it will actually steer the plane for the rest of the flight.

Of course, I always land safely. Even though nothing bad has ever happened (and statistically speaking it never will), I still get scared to fly.

So what is wrong with me?

Why Are you Terrified?

I came across a story about Jesus that opened my eyes. In the Gospel of Mark the disciples are out on a boat and a bad storm comes up. Jesus is with them, but he is asleep below deck. The disciples start to have a massive panic attack, and wake up Jesus so they can get all dramatic. They say,

'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?'

I like to imagine that the disciples thought like I do – that this was it and they were going to die at sea and never become old men who could yell at kids to get off their lawn.

Jesus gets up (probably kind of cranky, since He was sleeping), tells the wind and the sea to calm down, and then looks at the disciples and says something that hit me hard,

'Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?'

Fear and Love

Love casts out fear. I've read that line from 1 John 4:18 many times, but after reading the account of the storm at sea from the Gospel of Mark I've realized something new about my fear.

When I give in to my fear, I don't have time to love or reaffirm my faith in Christ. I believe that my fear is bigger than He is.

Fear makes me a disciple on that boat. Even though I have Christ with me, I still believe it isn't enough. I say the same dramatic, whiny thing to Christ that the disciples did, 'Jesus, don't you care? Don't you care that I am afraid? Don't you care that I might die? Does it not matter to you?'

Keep Calm and Fly On

I don't know what your fear is, but all fear tells us is that Christ doesn't care and that we are on our own. Fear tells us that nothing will help. It tells us that we are going to be hurt, alone, or out of control and there is nothing we can do.

Christ didn't come and save us so we could live in fear … He came so that we might have abundant life (John 10:10). We weren't created to be prisoners to fear.

Jesus can calm the sea in our hearts if we ask Him. The disciples still trusted that Jesus could do something, so they woke Him up. We can conquer our fears by loving Christ. It seems so simple, but the truest things often are.

I am going to conquer my fear of flying because I don't want it to be my master anymore. I don't want it to prevent me from being who Christ created me to be.

You should do the same … wouldn't life be that much better without your fear? Be who Christ created you to be. Be fearless.

Joel Stepanek

About the Author

I spent most of my 8th grade year in detention because there wasn’t a dare I wouldn’t accept. But in high school, my youth minister dared me to follow Christ and I haven’t looked back. I love all things Wisconsin, especially the Green Bay Packers. I can probably eat more cheese than you. (Please don’t dare me to prove it.)