Tuesday, October 6, 2015
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Michelle and Tara - they were the darlings of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Michelle Kwan was favored to leave Nagano with the coveted gold medal for women's figure skating. Fifteen-year-old Tara Lipinski was widely expected to win the silver as the second greatest female skater in the world. But, to the surprise of most of the world, Tara skated to the gold as the youngest skating gold medalist in Olympic history up to that time. Michelle Kwan went home with the silver. One morning afterwards, one commentator said of Tara Lipinski, "She was too young, too immature, too unrefined. It wasn't her turn. The reason Tara Lipinski couldn't win the gold medal is the reason it hangs around her neck today: She was a kid."
The writer went on to observe that while Michelle Kwan stayed with her parents in her room most of the time before her performance, young Tara was marching in the Opening Ceremony, mingling with the other athletes, cheering for her team at other events, even playing video games and football. And then, he said, "It was time to skate the long program. There was no fear. No nerves." Michelle actually talked about being, in her words, "more cautious." But for the gold medalist - they called it "no fear."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Moving Past Your Fear."
Now, if you can skate without fear, you can really enjoy what you're doing. As young Tara Lipinski said, "I let myself have fun." Fear costs you your confidence. And it might even cost you winning at what you have to do.
Our Word for today from the Word of God, 2 Timothy 1:7, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or, as many versions say, a spirit of fear), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." Under control, powerful, loving - that's how you can be if you can skate, work, live without fear; not having to respond to all the pressure, not being so concerned about failing...being tentative or trying too hard because you're afraid. Fear isn't from God. In fact, David said, "I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4).
Right now you may be skating in an arena or in an event that, quite honestly, is making you feel afraid. Maybe it's parenting - the fear of failing with your child, the fears of what they might do or what might be done to them in a world like ours. Or you might be facing an assignment or a challenge that has its share of fear in it. It could be medical or financial or relational. But for most of us, there's an arena we have to perform in that makes us afraid. And, so often, it is the fear that makes the very thing we're afraid of happen.
When you look at all the times Jesus reprimanded His disciples for being full of fear instead of full of faith, you begin to see two mistakes that make us paralyzed or limited by fear. First, focusing on ourselves: How am I performing, what are those people going to think of me, my limitations, my inadequacies? All about me. Secondly, focusing on the situation: How big it is, how hard it is, the dangers, the "coulds," the "mights," the "what if's," the scary possibilities.
Remember God doesn't give us the spirit of fear. He gives us the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. All the things we need to skate with championship form. So faith, which is the opposite of fear, comes not from focusing on myself or on my situation, but on my Savior! If I consciously fill up my mind with Him, the fear will start melting into faith. Why? Because I know nothing is going to happen that my God cannot handle, that my God has not approved, and that my God will not prepare me for and equip me for. Yes, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
So as you skate in the arena God has assigned to you, don't think about yourself, don't think about the situation. Think about your Savior! Fear will paralyze you. It'll make you tense; it'll make you make mistakes. But focusing on your Lord will enable you to skate relaxed, with confidence, and yes, maybe even having some fun.