“Don’t let fear be the deciding factor in your decision,” the author said on a popular podcast. The advice seemed so simple and in my heart I knew it was true, and yet it was difficult to follow.
I asked myself how many decisions over the past few months had been made in fear instead of a confidence that God would help me and lead me. Many times, my inner voice asked what other people would think instead of trusting Him. Even though I knew He was asking me to take a step of faith, doubt became my guide instead of His love and grace.
While I may never reach a place where fear has no influence over my decisions, I know God’s voice can become louder.
And when His voice becomes louder, I’m obedient to his leading, even when I’m afraid. My knowledge of who He is drowns the other voices telling me that He’s going to let me down.
A few months ago I listened to a pastor read the parable of the talents. The parable was familiar and at first my mind wandered, but the more I listened, the more I realized something I’d never seen before. For the first time, I saw how different the first two workers’ view of their Master was than the last one. When the first worker reports to him, you can almost hear the joy and anticipation in his voice as he says:
“Master…you entrusted me with five bags of gold and see, I have gained five more.”
The language this worker uses conveys a knowledge that by giving him the gold or talents to invest, the Master was sharing his wealth with him and trusting him with something valuable. It’s as though he knows the Master wouldn’t have done this if he wasn’t confident that he would use it wisely.
But when we get to the third worker, the view of the Master is completely different. It’s as though he’s describing another person entirely, and his countenance is downcast.
“I knew you were a hard man, harvesting where you have not down and fathering where you have not scattered seed,” he said.
Matthew 25:24 NIV
What a minute, is this the same Master? The trust and joy is replaced by a fear that the Master will treat him unfairly. While the first two accounts show a person who wants to share his harvest with the workers, the last one doesn’t see this characteristic in him. He sees someone who only wants to take and not give freely.
As I listened and later reread the account, I realized one crucial aspect of our faith journey. I saw the reason fear often leads us, even when our souls long to live a life of freedom.
Our view of who God is will always impact our willingness to use our gifts for Him.
If we view him as a hard man who is always looking for us to mess up or abandon us, we will likely hoard what we have and let fear lead us. If I’m honest, there have been long seasons of my life where I’ve viewed him this way. My experience with people I trusted filtered my perspective of God, and because they let me down, I assumed he would too.
But the more I spent time with him and approached him with an honest heart, the more I saw him as a gracious Father who gives in abundance. Slowly, my countenance became lighter as I realized we can use the abilities, gifts and resources he’s given us without hesitation, because he wants to multiply it and give us more.
Sometimes, we won’t see the harvest right away like the workers did in the parable. It may take years of planting and not seeing fruit. But when we work with God instead of resisting his leading, the harvest will come.
If you need to shift your focus from disappointment and worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about those seasons when it doesn’t seem as though God hears us, and how to see that he is working, even when we life doesn’t look the way we anticipated. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This book came at just the right time in my life when I needed to change my perspective. Abby McDonald’s beautiful and easy-to-read writing felt comforting and gently guided and helped me shift my attitude. There are so many great quotes throughout. There are few books I treasure enough to keep forever—this is one of them.” -Valerie
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.