Fearless

In nineteen eighty-nine, three enterprising young men created a clothing brand, billed as an ‘extreme sports brand with added attitude’. It now includes its own highly successful energy drink, and the brand has even been promoted by Hollywood through several of its ‘blockbuster’ movies.
The brand’s name?

No Fear

No Fear has been a global success story. So much so that the logo could often be seen on bumper-stickers, vehicle windows and, of course, on the clothing itself.

At one time, if you were to walk down almost any high street, you’d probably see the name – ‘No Fear’.

Fast forward to 2020 and what do we now see as we walk those same streets? We see fear. Despite faces half-hidden by masks, we see a population afraid. A demoralised people living in fear. But fear of what?

We’re warned of a dreadful ‘hidden enemy’ that stalks our land like a bacteriological Grim Reaper, striking down countless thousands as it cuts swathes through the nation. So goes the warning. But what do we actually see?

We see TV bulletins. We see headlines in newspapers. On the radio we hear an unrelenting chorus of pessimism and hopelessness every hour, on the hour. Of course people are afraid. Isn’t it inevitable?

But …

… what if that which people fear most is simply the bad news itself? They dread the next baffling bulletin, the next bizarre broadcast. What if it’s these things that are blighting their lives?

Like moths drawn to a flame, they can’t resist the urge to do that which causes their pain and they switch on, tune in and hang onto every word. Unbeknown to them, their greatest fears are being realised each and every day.

Fear.

Of course, there may be some whose desire is for us to be fearful; some who consider that fear renders us compliant, placid and helpless. After all, before 2020, were the headlines that much different? Were they, really?

Whatever the reasons may be, God doesn’t want us to be afraid.

“… do not fear for I am with you …”

Genesis 26:24

Any non-Christians reading the above verse may doubt the relevance of a phrase written fifteen hundred years before Christ. What validity does it have to those events occurring in the twenty-first century?

However, the bible teaches us that a fear-less life, living under the assurance of God’s love and protection was not something that was limited to Abraham’s generation all those years ago. The verse is a timeless one and applies to every single one of God’s children. I am one. As are you.

Despite the extraordinary and perverse events I see around me I don’t allow fear to dwell in me. I never allow it to gain purchase. That’s not to say that I’m a stranger to fear. I’m no more brave or resilient than the next man. Far from it. Fear has featured in my daily life for many years.

With God’s help, however, fear is now a temporary intruder, hastily evicted, rather than an unwelcome lodger permitted to squat in the basement of my psyche.

Such control over this unwelcome guest hasn’t always been the case. I’ll explain.

In 2017 I was invited by my medical specialist to give an account of living with uncontrolled epilepsy – a condition that goes hand-in-glove with stress and fear. This is what I wrote at that time:


Imagine if you will, driving your car down a busy road at night. It could be a narrow road such as those in North Yorkshire, flanked by dry stone walls. The walls have stood for over a century. They’re solid, rugged and unforgiving.

As you contemplate the stone-cold walls, you hit black ice and spin out of control. Please now focus on the nauseating fear you have in the pit of your stomach. Imagine removing your hands from the wheel—for you are no longer in control of your body’s motor function.

Now, remove all your lucidity, knowledge of the likely outcome; eliminate any memory you may have of previous such experiences. Disregard your earlier sense of logic— for at the onset of an epileptic seizure, logic no longer has a seat in the house.

You may fear crippling injury; you can’t influence the outcome. Anxiety piles on distress. You may die. Your fate is out of your hands.

Now, imagine how that feels. But let me tell you, you’re still not even close to experiencing the all-consuming fear of a seizure.

Consider the sickening sense of relief you experience as you regain control.

Your heart rate settles, the trembling in your limbs eases. Sweating ceases as your body and mind recovers.

Now, contemplate the dawning realisation that this will happen again later in the day. It will happen twice, three times maybe. And you have no idea of when they’ll hit you or where you’ll be when they do. Imagine the dread at facing a tomorrow loaded with the same constant threat— and every day of your life.

Now, put on a smile and carry on.

You see, the fear doesn’t come and go with the seizure activity. It remains a constant feature, albeit at a fluctuating level each day.


That was my life in 2017.

Two years later, almost crushed by the burden of responsibility in an increasingly hostile and dysfunctional world, whilst at the same time struggling to maintain control of body and mind, I cast my cares onto God, and declared:

‘Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need Your help in my life.’

I waved the white flag. But mine was not a flag of surrender, but one of victory, for that’s when my life changed.

That’s when my unwelcome lodger was finally expelled from the basement.

Worry and anxiety not only drain the spirit, but deplete our physical strength and consume our joy for life. Worry and fear are unacceptable. Jesus told us not to worry. He knows it can break us physically, mentally and spiritually – and this is not what he wants for us.

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Phillipians 4:6-7

To further illustrate the secure, unflinching confidence of a life filled with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, what follows is a statement written by a Christian brother. Before proceeding, you may read his brief testimony here.

Here is his declaration:


Declaration

Fifty-three years ago as a hard-drinking foul-mouthed soldier who tried to kill his friend who had become a Christian, God used that same friend to bring me to the cross of salvation.
God took me from the barrack room and anointed me to preach His Word.

He took me to nineteen different countries on four continents, some of them up to eight times. I have traveled on every type of transport known to man, and some that should not be known to man. I have slept in high-class hotels and under the stars. I have lived in villages and shanty towns in Africa and India, have walked through war zones and deserts, and have climbed mountains and traversed forests.

I have faced wild animals, been chased by angry mobs, had guns pointed at me and been caught up in riots (not of my making).

I have been with kings and politicians and with street beggars. I once climbed a mountain to minister to two dear souls and have preached to vast crowds at open-air meetings. I have conducted seminars for hundreds and Bible studies for two seekers.

I have worked with some of the finest children of God in all of the countries I visited. I have been inspired by their devotion to the work of His Kingdom and have counted it a great honour to have been able to work alongside them.

Now I am nearing my seventy-sixth birthday. I am still on fire for God and His Word; I am fit and (as far as I have ever been) am of sound mind.

I will not be cowered by a virus or intimidated by immoral liars of any political party. Nor will I be kept down by weak church leaders.

I am an eagle and I will rise up and proclaim the Word of God.



A final word on ‘fear’.

In the words of a song by American artist, Zach Williams, fear is also a liar:

Fear he is a liar.
He will take your breath,
Stop you in your steps.
Fear he is a liar.
He will rob your rest,
Steal your happiness.
Cast your fear in the fire,
‘Cause fear he is a liar.

To hear the song, click here.


In the Middle


In several places on this site I’ve alluded to what I’ve described as my ‘faltering walk with God.’ In My Testimony I explain how, having known and experienced God’s love, together with the fellowship of a vibrant church community, I eventually shunned both, opting instead to walk alone for forty years in the wilderness that is the world outside the church.

To maintain a reasonable word-count for my Testimony I declined to mention that, during those years, I repeatedly had a desire to find my way back to that narrow path for which this site is named. At such times I’d reach for my Bible and dust it off. Then, aided by a small book of devotional readings on the theme of ‘First Steps in the Christian Faith’ I’d try to re-ignite my own spark of faith.

Each time I tried, I failed.

My efforts were doomed to fail. Without the support of others I may as well have been trying to clap with one hand.

There were occasions, however, when I’d seek out and attend an evangelical church in the hope that the fellowship of other Christians would add the necessary fuel that would turn the spark I mentioned earlier into a flame. Again, it wasn’t to be.

My sense of shame and inadequacy at failing to remain strong in my faith rose up like a wall around me. I was sure that, what I perceived to be the solid foundation of faith in others gave them an insight into my own shortcomings. To put it another way, I no longer felt worthy of God’s love.

I continued my walk, not knowing whether my defection from God had led to His rejection of me; not knowing whether, for this sinner, there was to be no way back to Him.

If you’ve read my Testimony you now know that wasn’t the case. You now know He welcomed me with open arms. As he does for all those He loves.

I’ll never know why I was unable to return to my life as a practicing Christian between the years 1983 and 2019. However, I’m sure God knows. Furthermore, I’m sure that He’ll use experiences I gained during those years in His plans.



I do know that living a Christian life – a life in which one strives to be Christ-like – is not something I or anyone else can do alone. Once again, it would be like trying to clap with one hand. No, I need God’s help to do this each and every day.

Nevertheless, I know that each day will have its victories and each day will have its failures. But, knowledge of this, accepting it and thanking God anyway becomes its own victory.

An awareness that I am inherently flawed, yet striving to follow in the footsteps of the one man who wasn’t creates an inner conflict – a duality of existence. This is not unique to me – it’s the same for all of us.

For me however, this is perfectly summed up in the words of the song ‘In the Middle’ by American Christian artists, ‘Casting Crowns’:

Somewhere between the hot and the cold.
Somewhere between the new and the old.
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be,
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me.

Somewhere between the wrong and the right.
Somewhere between the darkness and the light.
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me,
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
without losing all control?

Fearless warriors in a picket fence,
reckless abandon wrapped in common sense.
Deep water faith in the shallow end
and we are caught in the middle.
With eyes wide open to the differences,
the God we want and the God who is.
But will we trade our dreams for His
or are we caught in the middle?
Are we caught in the middle?

Somewhere between my heart and my hands.
Somewhere between my faith and my plans.
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves.
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar.
Somewhere between the altar and the door.
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more,
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
without losing all control?

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side,
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle.

Should you wish to hear the song performed, click here.