Does Fear of the Unknown Prevent you From Taking Small Steps of Faith?
Throughout life we all face decisions of faith. Choices where we cannot see the outcome and we must decide to trust God or to retreat in fear and doubt. The really “big” moments are often referred to as “mountains” because we cannot see beyond the barrier the mountain is creating. We have no choice but to depend on God to get us through. However, not all trials or challenges are of a “mountain” size. In fact, life presents many much smaller challenges that test our faith. Instead of Mount Everest it’s more like a small hill or even a short wall. I like to refer to these barriers as Impala walls, because just like the African Impala when our next step feels like walking into the dark, we become afraid of taking even the smallest of risks.
What is the “Impala Wall?”
I am intrigued by the African Impala. God gave these magnificent creatures the ability to escape predators by leaping a distance of over 30-feet and jumping 10-feet high to soar over any obstacles in their way. Pretty amazing! However, if you have ever visited the zoo you may have noticed that an Impala can be contained by a 3-foot wall…not a 12-foot wall or monstrous mountain but a wall that is well within her ability to clear! All it would take is one plunge to gain her freedom yet the Impala remains inside the enclosure. This type of wall is what I refer to as the “Impala Wall.”
The Impala Wall is a situation or challenge much smaller than a mountain, but still causes us to be stuck by fear, doubt or lack of trust in God.
Why Does the Impala Refuse to Jump?
Impalas will not jump if the landing place cannot be viewed. They want to see where they are going first. When the Impala’s view is obstructed, she simply forgets the wonderful gift God has given her and she succumbs to fear instead. Aren’t we so much like that too?! Like the Impala we are often stuck by the unknown outcome of the very next step! Freedom from loneliness, boredom or even unhappiness might be on the other side, but the fear of not knowing keeps us like a prisoner.
What is Your Impala Wall?
We all face Impala Walls. I remember my early years of Bible study when I really wanted to share a personal answer but I was too afraid that I would look stupid, give a wrong answer or not be liked. It felt risky and I couldn’t see beyond the fear of the unknown reaction of others. I had an Impala Wall blocking me from experiencing the love and grace of the women in my study group.
Maybe you know what I am talking about. The smaller moments where the fear of not knowing gets the best of you, and you remain lonely because you’re too afraid to ask a new friend to join you for lunch. Or maybe you’re lacking purpose and meaning at work and to get the next promotion that excites you means you need to take a class. However, you fear failing the class so you remain unhappy. Maybe you’re an over-committed mommy who always say’s “yes” because you fear not being liked. The unknown road of saying “no” is too scary and instead of thriving you continue to just survive.
How Can We Hurdle Over Our Impala Walls?
Fears big or small both require faith- a willingness to Travel Unknown Roads (Pillar #4 of Chickening IN) and act with courage when we are unable to see beyond the place we are standing. I think of the two blind men who followed after Jesus (Matthew 9:27). Their Impala Wall was being blind. They literally could not see their next step…talk about walking into the unknown! Yet they pursued Him. The Bible says:
“Two blind men followed along behind Him, shouting, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us.” (Matthew 9:27)
Though their eyes were without sight their hearts knew who He was…He was the Messiah! By focusing on Jesus it gave them the strength to jump over their Impala Wall. The same holds true for us. We can walk in new places and explore the unknown roads of life when we put our hope in Him.
It’s not about a guaranteed outcome. It’s about the guaranteed presence of God.
Jesus is with us now, and He will be with us when we step into unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. By pursing after Jesus, like the blind men, we can scale over our Impala Walls and live the life of faith God desires for us.
What Impala Walls do you need to start Chickening IN to today?
How can you direct your gaze back to Jesus and away from the fear of the unknown? Here are a few things that have helped me:
- Reading the Jesus Calling Devotional
- Reading, studying and committing to memory Psalm 139!
- Reading the Proverb of the day (whatever the date is read that Proverb)
- Recalling times in the past when I took a risk and everything worked out. Even if it didn’t turn out as planned…God still was there with me and I learned, grew or changed because of it.
Whether it’s a mountain-sized problem or an Impala Wall, with God you can find the courage to start Chickening IN. God promises to be with us here and there, and with Him “All things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). We don’t need to be stuck in fear. Instead we can start walking, climbing or jumping in faith today!
JJ @ Chickening IN