–By Rene Tyson–
Have you ever been afraid but you are not sure what is causing the fear? Proverbs 28: 1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” There was a time in my life when I was constantly afraid. This verse caught my eye because just a quick glance makes it appear as though the “wicked,” (those who have no regard for God or His ways), are the ones who are trapped looking over their shoulders for an imaginary enemy, while the “righteous,” (those who love God and want to obey Him), are the bold, the brave, the chest-out, head-high kind of people. That is who I want to be! So how do I get brave?
I can remember sitting in my living room asking the Lord, “What am I so afraid of? Why do I feel a constant pressure in my chest, an unease deep inside?” I knew that I hid my fear well; part of my career was helping others to get over their fears and to walk with confidence. Plus, I was an actress and knew how to play the part of a successful, confident woman. One time, a business man stopped me outside an elevator and said, “I bet you are very successful in whatever it is you do,” “Yes, thank you! That was a super kind thing to say,” I replied. But I was still afraid. Success, power suit, walk, talk–none of it alleviated my fear.
One day I finally asked the Lord, “Why am I so afraid?” I knew He would answer because He promises to give me understanding. Proverbs 28:7 says, “The one who keeps the law is a son (or daughter) with understanding.” The “Law” is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:30-31). If my priorities are in order– i.e.; if I care about the things that God cares about and If I view myself the way that He views me (forgiven, pure, precious), then He promises to give me understanding (a special knowledge) about things I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
The Lord revealed to me that I was too concerned about others’ opinions of me. I was trying to ‘measure up’ in so many areas of my life, but the line kept moving, my dread kept growing, and I was completely worn out. The result was fear. I was “acting” righteous on the outside, but on the inside I was positioning people’s opinions of me as more important than God’s opinion of me. I came to realize that this attitude was sinful. It is a wicked thing to give more regard for people than for God. “The wicked flee when no one pursues..” That was me. I was so fearful I felt as though I were being hunted down, but there was no one one behind me.
Needless to say, once I confessed my sin to the Lord–the moment I said that I was sorry for caring more about people’s opinions than His opinion, He instantly took away my fear. I can still remember sitting on my couch and praying, when suddenly the dread in my heart was lifted. My tight chest loosened and I could finally breath again.
I wish I could say I never revert back to old habits but every once in awhile I still find myself placing people’s opinions on a pedestal. I recognize it more quickly than I used to because fear and dread always accompany this particular habit. In those moments where I feel dread and fear begin to grip my heart, I ask God for understanding. I look to scripture, especially Proverbs 28, and read all the promises that He has in store for those who love Him, my favorite of which is, “You, sweet Rene, are as BOLD as a LION!”