I can’t go out wearing this, I concluded. What will people think?
Purple shorts, a sleeveless neon green top, and a bright orange beach visor was all I could find for my morning walk. Maybe I won’t wear a hat, I contemplated.
I wasn’t thinking about what was comfortable for me, but how people I might pass on my walk would judge me for not having a matching outfit. Victory came when I went on my walk anyway.
Although this was over a small matter, I discovered I’m still not completely free from a fear that’s plagued me over the years—fear of man—being ruled by the thought “What will people think?”
As a Christian this gets me in trouble because I can care more about what people think than about obeying God’s will.
Recently I felt led by God to send a note to an acquaintance who had left her husband. I had a strong impression I was to tell her about God’s intervention in our marriage troubles and let her know I was praying for her.
Fear of man (in this case fear of a woman) set in big time. Surely she’ll think I’m butting into her business. And what if she gets mad at me? Or judges me as a religious nut? I was afraid of this lady’s judgment and rejection more than I was afraid of disobeying the Lord.
I’ve been at that point too many times in my Christian walk. In my writing life I’ve faced it often when God has told me to be transparent. I’m supposed to be a godly woman. How can I tell others about my deep struggles? I’ve tried to argue with the Lord. But when I do tell of my stumblings and how God has picked me up, people respond and are encouraged.
Years ago a friend noticed my tendency to be consumed with others’ opinions of me. She showed me a verse I had never seen before.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 NIV
I thought I was keeping myself safe by not going out of my comfort zone and by wearing a mask. But God was telling me something different. Trusting Him—which means staying in the center of His will– was the key to my safety.
Today I mailed my letter to the lady who left her husband. I put in a booklet I wrote on reasons to stay married along with encouragement cards with Bible verses on them. Telling her I was available, I included my email address and phone number.
As I did what God had called me to do–caring about someone else rather than insisting I don’t want to get involved–peace settled over my soul.
I’ll let you know what happens, but no matter what it is, I can rejoice that I chose fear of God over fear of man.
What leading from the Lord are you ignoring because of fear of man?