A lot of people probably know that phobia is just a fancy word for fear. But I was surprised to learn that there are more than 500 documented phobias.

Ever heard of Consecotaleophobia? Some poor soul has it, and their heart faints at the sight of chopsticks. Or try to imagine living with Cyclophobia – you’d never be able to teach your kid how to ride a bike. These may sound foolish, but in reality, allowing any kind of fear to have control over our life is just as foolish. It can even be deadly.

An inmate who was once a part of a Bible study I teach at Shakopee Prison told me a story that shocked me to the core. She had a swimming pool in her backyard and would regularly watch her husband and kids splash in the water from behind the patio door inside her home. She had agoraphobia, and even though she longed to join them in the pool, the thought of stepping outside gripped her heart with paralyzing fear.

One day she called for her four year-old son, but he was nowhere to be found in the house. So she went to the patio door to see if he was playing in the yard, and to her horror, she saw him just as he slipped down the ladder into the swimming pool. He didn’t know how to swim, and he was totally alone. She said watching her little boy bob up and down in the water gasping for breath was the worst moment of her life.  But even faced with watching her own son drown, she could not bring herself to go outside and rescue him.

Fear had that much of a stronghold over her. She stood there screaming, crying, and pleading with God to save her son. The little boy managed to catch a rung of the ladder during his flailing, and was able to pull himself up from under the water. When he got out of the pool, he ran across the yard toward the house, toward his mother who was still frozen behind the sliding glass door.

Before this woman was a prisoner at Shakopee, she was a prisoner in her own home.

Consider fear this way – False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear of change; fear of the unknown; fear that life will be different; fear that you will be rejected; fear is the number one tactic the Enemy uses to keep us from making the changes we need.

I believe there are many people who know deep down they need to change the people, places and things in their lives, but fear keeps them from doing it. Really, fear holds us back from God’s best. Many people continue in low-level living, where things like drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, pornography, profanity and rage are an every day way of life. This stuff brings momentary gratification to the flesh, but its lasting effects lead to destruction.

Paul speaks of just this in Hebrews 6:21, when he says: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!”

Man, does he have it right on, or what?!?! What did I profit from years of reckless living in my twenties?

Not. A. Single. Thing…

…unless you consider being used, abused, abandoned, cheated on, addicted, or a liar and a bad friend, positive things. I knew in my heart of hearts that the only way I was ever going to be happy and ‘living the life’, was if I laid it down.

But I was afraid! – afraid that if I gave up the momentary pleasures, life wouldn’t be fun anymore. My life was full of things that fizzled. Things that brought fear. What I really needed was freedom… the right kind.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that: “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.

As Christ followers, we are free to do everything. But not everything is good. Back then, I looked at my freedom as something where I got to party as much as I wanted, and all the things that came along with that lifestyle. But REAL freedom, the freedom that’s found in Christ, means that I don’t have to do those things.  I’m free to go about life and be fulfilled without being a slave to the bottle, to the clubs, to the high.

“Whom the Son has set free is free indeed!” – John 8:36

Jesus has a life planned for you and me that far exceeds anything that we could ever imagine on our own. How do I know? Because I have begun living this life, and because the Bible tells me so.

I love how The Message translation puts Ephesians 3:20-21: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

Give your fears to God, and He will give you peace. He promises to guide you down a road that is full of pleasures that will not fizzle. Flourish in His goodness. Bask in His peace.