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Preserved – The Year of Doing Things, Afraid (part 2)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about doing things afraid. I want to continue that discussion this week. By doing things afraid, I don’t mean that you are controlled by your fear. By doing things afraid, I mean doing things in spite of your fears. Doing things afraid also means that you are more cautious and less likely to take unnecessary risks.

In looking at doing things afraid, I focused on the story of Gideon from Judges 6-8 who God called to be a great warrior but who was initially gripped by fear. At first, he used excuses and then he asked God multiple times to confirm His word. Eventually, Gideon acted boldly and faithfully did what God told him to do. As a result, he and his men were victorious in battle. But before he could get to those courageous battles, he had to work through his fear.

Judges 6:21-23 describes Gideon as having a conversation with the angel of the Lord, then having a conversation with the Lord himself. He was so encouraged by his conversation with the Lord that he worshipped. Judges 6:25 describes him having another visitation from God where he was told to tear down the altar to the false god Baal and to construct one to the Lord.

However, verse 27 shows that Gideon was obedient but he was also afraid. “So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.” The Lord did not tell him when to tear down the altar so Gideon choose to do it at a time that he thought would be the least noticeable because he was afraid. Part of what he was afraid of was what others would think about him. However, despite that fear, he was still obedient to God.

Some have questioned Gideon’s motives and re-reading this passage I could see why. Because he destroyed the altar in the “dark of night,” some have argued that it didn’t really count as being obedient to God. For them, in order for it count, he needed to show greater faith and do it in broad daylight.

But the way I read this passage, Gideon showed the kind of faith that I’m more familiar with. I’d like to think of myself as a mighty woman of faith who trusts in 100%. But that is not always the case. Like Gideon, I want do what the Lord says, but because of my own insecurities, I am both obedient and concerned about being judged by others. Yet, rather than waiting for the fear to go away, I do things afraid. And by doing things that God has called me to do afraid, I prepare myself for the next step of faith that may require even greater courage and obedience.

Shewanda Riley, PhD. is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.

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