The Fearful Heart

As a child I was fearful of the dark. Leaving a light on in the hallway and bathroom helped me feel safe. As an adolescent I developed a fear of fire. This most likely came from two house fires, which were devastating for families we loved. Living with fears can be debilitating, and people with fears and/or phobias are not to be ignored or ridiculed. No matter how fearful a heart can become, God understands and stands ready to heal. He’s done so in many hearts and lives throughout the generations.

Having a fear-filled heart is different from the “fear of the Lord” that the Scriptures encourage. Developing a healthy fear of the Lord means that the believer is in worshipful awe at the magnificence and majesty of God, trusting wholeheartedly in the promises, protection, and peace of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” we read in the Psalms (Psalm 111) and Proverbs (Prov. 9:10).  To fear God in this regard is good for the soul. A healthy, reverential fear of God leads one to a deeper trust in and a greater conviction about the Lord…it’s where wisdom begins.

Fears that aren’t led toward awe and reverence are those that hinder a vital relationship with God. When we hold onto our fears, either willfully or inadvertently, the fear itself can become at minimum a distraction, and can possibly become an idol in our soul (growing larger and more all consuming than God). The fear can cripple us from moving forward. It can damage relationships and diminish one’s effectiveness.

Fears come in multiple shapes and sizes. The list of phobias from A to Z numbers 100 or more. Some of the fears include the fears of flying, of crowds, of being touched, of thunder and lightening, of failure, of being alone, of clowns, of speaking in public, of needles/injections, and of strangers, just to name a few.  To grip onto our fears and not let them go is to allow them to reign captive in our hearts. Hope is the antidote to fear, and hope is what needs to be proclaimed to those captivated by their fears.  Disclosing one’s phobia to trusted family and friends is the beginning of the healing process. God uses His people as His hands and voice of hope of renewal.

For the less than incapacitating fears (those that don’t require psychological treatment or therapeutic attention), there is certainly hope for those who struggle with a fearful heart. To begin with, God isn’t the source of our fearful heart. Instead, He longs to give every believer a spirit of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).  God’s great gift to all members of His family is love, and since God is love, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4: 18).  This is followed by one of the most significant truths of all…”We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It’s because of God’s first love that our fears can be driven out of our hearts and replaced with loving and gentle peace.

Is there a fear in your heart that you’d like to have removed by God and replaced with His love…love that is filled with confidence and contentment? Invite those you trust into the story of your fearfulness.  Ask them to give you the courage to pursue grace and healing. Embrace the freedom to confess your fear and entrust it into the gentle hands of God to redeem and transform for His greater glory…first in your own heart and then in your daily witness to all who cross your path.  May your fearful heart be radically transformed into a trusting heart today.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.