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Be Not Afraid: Bridging Over Fear



Editor’s note: Missioner Maggie Van Roekel reflects on the whisperings of fear and the overcoming power of trust, hope, and love which led her to hearing God’s call to mission.

“Do not be afraid.”

I hear this phrase during so many Sunday mornings and I read it in the words of Jesus when I open the bible. But am I listening?

If I hear it all the time, why is it that when I was first being called to mission, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear? Why did I continue to pursue the seemingly safer route of applying to graduate school? The answer: I was afraid.

It was out of fear that I told God that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not wise enough to go on mission. Not enough. I believed in my heart that God had the wrong girl. I worried how my friends would feel and what my family would say. I stressed about what answering the call would mean for the future I had envisioned for myself. I was afraid of this journey that hadn’t even begun.

The media today bombards us with negativities. There are so many stories and the overwhelming message is “be afraid.” That fear, which seems to grab onto every single piece of news, has a pretty loud voice if we let it.

It’s essential for us to notice which voice we let win. Because while trust tells us we should build bridges, fear argues that we should put up walls. When hope begs us to share what we have, fear says to make sure we have more than we need. And while love shows us we need to be aware of the needs of others, fear urges that we should look out only for ourselves.

And the truth of the matter is that in the moment, fear holds the power of making itself feel like the easier choice. So we build walls so high that we don’t know our neighbors, we walk right past those who need us without a second glance, and we fill our life with “things” that we can hold on to.

The problem is that fear lives as an opponent to love, to trust, to God. When we make room in our hearts to invite fear to creep in, we are closing the space for God. If I only save the outside crevices of my heart for God, how can I really hear His call? And even if I hear it, how can I be prepared to answer if I let fear win?

As I began listening to God, He slowly moved into the space that fear once held. Fast-forward 11 months and here I am. I’m ready to build bridges, to see and embrace my neighbors, to live simply in solidarity with people who are living on the margins. I’m ready to rid my heart of fear and live for the trust, hope, and love that come with filling my heart with God’s presence.

Reflection Question: how can you build a bridge and serve someone around you with love today rather than letting fear close you up?

Through listening the stories of our marginalized brothers and sisters, Maggie seeks to gain new perspectives on joy and hope across different backgrounds. Her passion for disability social justice grew out of numerous experiences working with individuals with disabilities, including three summers at an Easter Seals camp. Maggie grew up in Iowa and studied health science at the University of Iowa.