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I have not yet begun to fight!

If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery. 
(John Paul Jones)

These words were spoken by an American naval Captain who lived in the 1700's - words that remain as true today as they were when they were spoken. A lot of things attempt to create a culture of fear around each of us today - wars, rumors of wars, deadly viruses, and unprecedented disasters caused by outlandish weather fronts. We could grow quite weary trying to fight off the fear, but rather than weary ourselves by attempting to fight it off, let's work to cultivate faith instead. The more we cultivate our faith - or allow Christ to cultivate it within us - the less fearful things will intimidate us!

‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10)

If we are 'serving on his side' then we have nothing to fear. He won't allow us to fall, nor will he allow panic to consume us. Do you know what panic really is? It is a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons. Maybe this is why God reminds us not to panic - because he knows how well 'fear' is reproduced. It can become rampant in a split second and do you know what panic does? It paralyzes people. Rather than escaping what causes you the greatest amount of fear, you are held in place attempting to deal with it.

Look at the three promises here - he'll give us strength, help us, and hold us steady because he has a firm grip on us. Have you ever heard someone tell another person to 'get a grip' in a moment where panic is taking hold? It is because they have lost their hold on things - they cannot 'grip' because they let go of something that gave them footing. The good news is that God not only gives us footing - he holds us there when our grip is slipping! Maybe what we need to recall when fear begins to create a moment or two of panic are these three promises.

As Jones said, cultivate faith and fear will have no inroad. He was probably made most famous for his words, "I have not yet begun to fight!" - words he did not take lightly, nor did he fail to live by them each and every day. Wouldn't it be great if we faced our worst fears with that same attitude? To look them squarely in the eye and proclaim firmly that we have not yet begun to fight? If you are like me, you might be a bit of a scrapper, but you don't like the longer battles. 

Take heart in knowing this - God is right there alongside in the scraps and the battles - so we have no need to fear. Build up your faith - he'll give you strength when you need it. Stand in your faith - he'll help in ways we didn't even realize we needed help. Overcome by your faith because he is holding you steady when all else seems to be wavering around you! Just sayin!


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