Stepping through the doors of Festival Church for May Ignite, you could tell that God meant business for the youth of Chester and Wales- lives were about to change and hearts were about to be opened, all through the awesome love of Jesus.
Kicking off the evening with The Monkey ice breaker, led by Jonah, we were left energised, empowered (and a tad more aware of our lack of physical fitness after being floored by a ”warm up”) before praising our Saviour with some incredible worship.
With our hearts open to God, youth pastor Emma Lewis took to the stage to preach about The Other Side of Fear. For most people fear is seen as ‘the obstacle’- it cripples us, luring us back to the familiar. For me, fear is something that I’ve become ashamed of, a sign of weakness to those around me. Emma, however, made me realise that whether it’s a fear of the judgement of others, of our family, exams, our religion, it doesn’t matter because absolutely everyone has them. In Exodus 14:10-12, we see that fear dates back to the people of Israel, so terrified of the unknown that they would rather go back to being Egyptian slaves than to see what Moses had to offer on the other side of that fear.
This is when God gives us a choice. In Emma’s childhood she too was given this choice, a choice that only you have the power to make: to place all of your trust in the Lord and to stand firm. Listen to God’s words “do not be afraid”, trust in his awesome, incomprehensible power, and allow him to transform that ‘obstacle’ of fear into a ‘motivator’. Emma showed us that as soon as you allow God to take over, your baggage becomes your advantage, your dictator becomes your motivator, and what could floor us actually firms us.
With the immense power of God, we are able to feel fear and do it anyway. The Israelites were able to physically walk to ‘the other side of fear’ thanks to the Lord’s “mighty hand”, and so can we. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “cast all your anxiety on the Lord”- all that crippling fear of pleasing others, of judgement, comparison, rejection, of being the real you, is the one thing that lies between us and our destiny. As Emma said, we know God’s awe-inspiring power, his unending love, but now we need to feel it in our hearts as well as our heads, we need to listen for his voice above the daily lies we’re told and we need to claim back our future through our trust in him.
After years of trying to fight my fears alone, Emma made me realise that God doesn’t wait for us to figure out the answer ourselves and meets us on the other side of our fear, he holds out his hand for us to take and walks us across to the other side himself. We just have to choose to trust him.
What an incredible message from an incredible person, touching so many lives in one night. Cannot wait for the next Ignite on the 9th June for even more hearts to be opened. See you there!