When Desire Is Greater Than Fear


Steep mountain roads scare me. High bridges. The St. Louis Arch.

But not airplanes. Nor snakes (not too much anyway). Nor dentists.

Our rankings of fears are as individual as we are.

Maybe that’s because our ranking of desires are as individual as we are, too.

In Edward T. Welch’s excellent book on fear, Running Scared, he says,

“Listen to your fears and you hear them speak about things that have personal meaning to you. They appear to be attached to things we value.”

Maybe that’s why we fear for the safety of family members. For our own health. Of being hurt.

“There is a close connection between what we fear and what we think we need. If we need comfort, we will fear physical pain. If we need approval from others, we will fear being criticized. If we need love, we will fear rejection. If we need admiration for our attractiveness, we will fear getting fat. Whatever you need is a mere stone’s throw from what you fear.

But instead of running from our fears, Welch says to step closer.

“Rather than minimize your fears, find more of them. Expose them to the light of day because the more you find, the more blessed you will be when you hear words of peace and comfort.”

Behind many of our fears is the lack of control. We don’t like being dependent on others, on circumstances, even God. Humility doesn’t come naturally to us.

But the way to overcome fear isn’t to have more control; it’s to replace it with something stronger. What’s the strongest thing possible? Love from God.

God’s love manifests itself in many ways, from directly feeling it, to seeing the gifts he gives us daily, to how we’re able to love others.

With God’s love, we do braver things.

Welch points out, “A woman with a fear of water will lose that fear if her child is in danger of drowning.” When what we love is greater than our fear of not having it, we shift.

That love is grace.

“Grace to believe that God is good. Grace to have joy even while the body is wasting away. Grace to cry out and be certain that God hears. Grace to know that you are not alone. Grace to trust rather than fear. Grace to know that death is not the end.”

And grace to ride the steep mountain roads to reach the top. When your desire for the view is greater than your fear of the road, know God is present.

His views are always worth it.


Mount Rainier, Aug 2016

More Quotes from Running Scared

“The God who calls you to trust in him when you are afraid will spend a great deal of time showing you that you can trust him. He doesn’t ask you to live with your eyes shut. Faith is not blind.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Most human beings respond to cries for help. When they do, it is because they are in some small way chips off the old block. They are looking like their Father.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Whenever Scripture says anything about God hearing, watch out, because you know something is about to happen. When God hears, he acts.”

~ * ~ * ~

“He doesn’t hear because of us and the quality of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.”

~ * ~ * ~

“One of the strategies for dealing with worry is to be overtaken by something more important than the object of your worries.”

~ * ~ * ~

“If I can trust the word of a friend, why do I question the word of the God of the universe? Go figure. Sin is truly bizarre.”

~ * ~ * ~

“If the difficulty you anticipate comes upon you, you will receive grace to know God’s love and grace to love someone else.”

* * *

When has your love been greater than your fear? If fears bother you too, I highly recommend Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

42 thoughts on “When Desire Is Greater Than Fear

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, and looks like an interesting book.

    When I was younger I wondered what it would be lie to face an early and terminal illness; while I didn’t fear it (possibly because I thought it would never happen) it was not something for which I yearned.

    Now…well, it’s really mundane. I can’t do much to change things, and I even a Damoclean sword can become boring. You can stare into the face of death for only so long before you yawn.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Only you could put it this way, Andrew: “even a Damoclean sword can become boring. You can stare into the face of death for only so long before you yawn.” Blessings to you, friend, for keeping it honest. When we’re young, who ever thinks they’ll die? Not many. But with each year, it becomes a little more real. But you’re right; we can’t do much to change it. Acceptance is most helpful.

  2. tina

    I have a debilitating fear of heights, but not flying in airplanes. Isn’t that weird? I also have a fear of driving off into the lake and being submerged under water. We live around a lake and cross bridges all the time. I’m extremely claustrophobic. After typing all that out, I’m thinking I might be a little crazy. Haha Running Scared seems like a book I need to read. Thank you for sharing it. I love all the quotes from the book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So you get me, Tina. 🙂 Not everyone understands that a fear of heights doesn’t mean a fear of flying. I don’t fear flying either. I think my heights phobia is more a fear of edges. ha. I don’t mind being high up, I just don’t like being near a cliff where I could fall off. Running Scared is really a great book so I do recommend it to us fearful types. He speaks a lot about relying on God’s grace not only for the present but also for the future, and I need that message on repeat.

  3. TC Avey

    This sounds like a really good book. I’m going to put it at the top of my Reading list.
    I really liked this part, “When what we love is greater than our fear of not having it, we shift.”

    As I read this I thought of the Bible passage about loving God more than even our families and our own lives. Luke 14:25-27

    Over the years I’ve come to believe that the things I worry about the most are the things I trust God with the least. I must trust Him to take care of things and not make decisions based in fear.
    Great post. I look forward to reading this book.

  4. Barbara H.

    As you know, I dearly loved this book. It’s always interesting to see what things stood out to someone else about a book we’ve both read. Some of these I remember, but not others (which means I probably need to read it again sometime).

    One truth that helped me the most was in the last quote you shared – that even if what we fear does happen, God’s grace will be there and is sufficient.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You are part of the reason I moved this book up on my to-read list. And it lived up to my expectations. I will need to return to it again myself; lots of things here I need to practice, read again, practice again.

  5. June

    I never thought of our fears being related to our needs. I’ll have to think through some of my true fears (vs things I just don’t like ie the dentist) and examine the needs driving those fears. Sounds like an interesting book, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m having to think more on that too, June, how my fears may be driven by my *needs* (or at least my perceived needs). I definitely see it with some of my fears (losing a loved one, for example), but others are harder to make a connection. Like bridges? ha. I guess it’s a fear of going into the water and dying submerged in my car, which is linked to my desire to stay safe and in control at all times.

  6. christina

    This sounds like an especially wise and helpful book on fear/worry. Thanks for all the food for thought just in these brief quotes! The connection drawn between love and fear reminds me of a William Gurnall quote I heard recently (from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, maybe?): “The chains of love are stronger than the chains of fear.”

    Happy last day of summer to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ooh, excellent quote and so applicable here! Thanks for sharing, Christina. This is definitely a rich book. There were twice as many quotes that I wanted to share than I had room for.

  7. floyd

    Those are great quotes and a ton of wisdom from God!

    I’ve found that fear finds its natural place under the foot of Christ when we seek Him regarding the subject.

    Fear is not so different than idolatry; anything that comes before God is a breach of the Commandments. Silly to fear what sits beside us in His palm…

    A good reminder… along with the heavy word of “humility”.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      There you go with that “humility” again. 🙂 I’m really seeing more and more how humility could help us avoid SO many pitfalls of sin. Glad you make that connection so often, Floyd! It’s always good. Thanks, brother.

  8. David

    Dear Lisa

    That’s a good point about fear being linked to desire. I think (secretly and deep down) shame is my greatest fear. Certainly my worst nightmare Ever in My Life was about that.

    As you also point out, the key is not to battle the side effects of the erroneous desires, but to replace them with better desires. So rather than beat myself up I have been trying (for a long time LOL) to focus less on turing away and more on turning toward – cultivating a desire for God’s presence and God’s love.

    The quotations from the book are nice but I’m afraid you outshine them:

    > But the way to overcome fear isn’t to have more control;
    > it’s to replace it with something stronger.
    > What’s the strongest thing possible? Love from God.
    > God’s love manifests itself in many ways, from directly
    > feeling it, to seeing the gifts he gives us daily,
    > to how we’re able to love others.

    That is a beautiful idea: that my actively loving others is a manifestation of God’s love in me; that I feel God’s love more by showing my love for the people around me. Really beautiful thank you.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I was just talking with a friend last night about that fear of shame. We noted how sometimes we instinctively point outward and blame others for our faults, and other times we point inward and turn it into shame. Both can be unhealthy reactions. So I agree with you that if we let go of all the finger pointing (inward or outward) and instead revel more in God’s unconditional grace, perhaps we’ll more quickly outgrow our faults anyway and grow in more healthy directions toward love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, David. I always appreciate hearing your viewpoint.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I found that link interesting too, Elizabeth. I want to spend more time in thought and prayer about how my fears are connected to my desires and see how I can change my thoughts on desires to thus change my fears. Grateful God never leaves us with no hope of change!

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    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, you should see all the notes I’ve highlighted in this book! 🙂 Lots and lots of good material here. Some chapters hit home with me especially hard so I need to go back and do a re-read periodically.

  10. Joanne Viola

    This sounds like such a wonderful book! Amazing to me is how many posts this morning are on “love”. It seems God has quite a bit to say on this topic today 🙂 I love that God’s love equips us to do so much more than we ever could or would on our own. Another book to check out!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it neat when you notice a theme in the blogs you read? I often find that too. God knows how to speak to us in so many ways! This is indeed a wonderful book that I highly recommend to anybody who also struggles with worries. God’s grace is where I need to focus my thoughts instead. Thanks for stopping in, Joanne.

  11. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I love that quote that says God doesn’t hear because of our efforts, but because that’s who he is. So striking!
    Thank you for introducing me to this book. I think I may have to buy it!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I envy people like your husband. My husband is like that, too. Fear just isn’t much of a thing for him. Granted, he does have some things he’s afraid of, but not like me. We’re meant to learn from them, right? 🙂

  12. Lois Flowers

    Oh my goodness, Lisa … I LOVE this quote: “He doesn’t hear because of us and the quality of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.” So many good thoughts here … both Welch’s and yours. I guess it’s all about what’s at stake … which makes me think all kinds of convicting thoughts about a certain fear of mine right now. Thank you for this push towards moving forward, despite my fear.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad these quotes resonate with you, too, Lois. The quote about hearing is really good to me as well. Reminds me of God loving us not because of who we are, but because of who he is. Praying you work out that fear that is bugging you!

  13. Jean Wise

    very insightful quotes about fear. I used to deny, then fight fear. I love the imagery of now welcoming it along with me but not letting it drive the car. “Attached to the things we value” wow never considered that before. Will ponder that…. Have a great weekend Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, acknowledging our fear is a healthy step. I’d rather deny it, but I can’t. ha. It’s probably good that I can’t. But I don’t want it to drive me either–stick it in the back seat and keep moving forward. 🙂

  14. Lori

    Lisa, this sounds like a wonderful book. I’ve added it to my list to read. I never thought I would get over my fear of spiders, but all it took was when my son as a toddler being scared of them. I quickly learned to swallow that fear to kill them. While I’m still a little nervous around them, I don’t close the door and wish them away. Thanks for sharing this review with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a perfect example of what this author is saying! Once we find something greater than our fear (like protecting your toddler), it loses some of its power over us. I used to really fear throwing up (not that I like it now!), until I felt SO bad with a virus one time that I longed to throw up. I never thought that would happen. But throwing up was a better option than that horrible stomachache. Hopefully we can still avoid spiders and viruses, but at least we’re making progress in the right direction. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, Lori.

  15. Beverley

    Did you know that a fear of heights is not actually a fear of heights, but a fear of falling? I read it in a book many years ago and since then whenever i have to cross a high bridge, especially one over moving traffic, including trains, i tell myself to stop being ridiculous because there is noway i am going to fall and it calms my fears. As for those big ugly flying moths in my bedroom at night, it’s ok God you can come and get those and i wouldn’t argue with you. I have had two such visits this year and thankfully they have both flown towards the windows where i was able to let them out. Right now i fear that God isn’t listening, doesn’t know what i need and is totally deaf to my prayers, but then maybe he isn’t – we are not always good at self-preservation!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad to hear you share this, Beverley! I’ve been suspecting that my own fear of heights anyway is indeed a fear of falling. So now it’s confirmed. 🙂 Because being on high places themselves don’t scare me; I can stand in the middle of a high peak and be fine; it’s only the edges where I could imagine myself falling that make me scared. Wish I could do something for you with those flying moths!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Valerie. This book is definitely a great one on fear. The author shares some of his own fears in ways you don’t often read by Christian male authors (no offense) so he’s very relatable to those of us who have our own fears.

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