Not with Fear, but Joy

When I was in middle school, I decided it was time to try a sport and joined a softball team. The first year was so much fun! Our team wasn't the best, but I learned a lot, made friends, and grew in my skills. When I signed up to play again the next year, I assumed it would be the same. Wow, was I wrong!

Suddenly, I was on a new team, and this team was good. We had strong pitchers and the coaches really thought we could win a lot of games. No longer did each player get to move around and play different positions. Now, everything was about maximizing our opportunity to win. This approach may have worked for others, but I was terrified.

Every time I got up to bat, I dreaded it. It got to the point where I was hoping I'd just get walked so there wouldn't even be a possibility of striking out. This game that I used to play with a sense of joy, I now played out of fear. It felt more like everything I did I did out of a desire to not mess up and not because I enjoyed what I was doing.

Have you ever found yourself doing things not out of a sense of joy but out of dread or fear? So often in life our fear can become our motivator. We find ourselves doing things not because we want to or because we believe in it but because we're afraid of what will happen if we don't do it. That fear can be valid, and yet I truly believe that God desires joy for us. That God asks us not to go forward in fear, but in joy. How do we live out our lives in the church and in the world from a place of joy even when it feels like scary things loom around us?

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