I unfortunately choose to live in fear a lot. I’ve got worst-case scenarios that I can analyze at the drop of a hat. I am afraid of making people frustrated with me. I can be afraid of so many things all at once that it begins to choke me. Anyone else?
But really, when I stop to think about it, my fear is simply saying I don’t trust in my Heavenly Father. Whenever I choose to live in fear, I am swallowed up by my own imaginations.
This is not being more than a conqueror through Christ, is it? When I obsess on all the possibilities, the current realities that seem to dominate, or the past mistakes that must determine what happens next—all that means I am not choosing to trust God and move past my emotions.
It also means that I’m looking at the natural and forgetting the supernatural. For instance, when I decide to freak out about finances, I think I need to quit living on the donations that are sent in to support the ministry and go find some part-time work where the paycheck comes from a reliable, consistent source. And then Jesus gently asks me where I think those paychecks come from. Of course, I answer that they come from the business where I would work, an established business who is consistent with their payments. And He reminds me that nothing is more established or consistent than Him—that the paychecks that I want to believe come from a business or a person actually still come from Him! At any point, I could be without a job or I could be making millions, but He will do what is best for my relationship with Him. He isn’t interested in my being financially comfortable, really. He is interested in my knowing Him, though, and sometimes that requires being quite financially uncomfortable.
If I choose to look past the fear of where my finances are going to go and seek Him, He removes my fear, for perfect love casts out fear. And then, He can help me understand what I should be doing for a job or what I should pursue. But the fear is no longer dictating my actions. This doesn’t mean I won’t look for other options in terms of income, but I will start by recognizing only He provides for us. No human or business entity is more trustworthy than Him.
I can tend to make all kinds of decisions because of a fear motivation rather than a love motivation, especially when it comes to fearing problems in relationships. If I am perfectly loved and have nothing to fear, I can be motivated by Jesus’ never-ending love rather than operating out of the things that might happen in a worst-case scenario. This means that how I act will probably look different with people when I don’t have to fear them leaving me, betraying me or hurting because of me. I do not mean that it won’t be painful if these things happen, but I won’t have to live in constant apprehension and anxiety about when it might. This is a difference of experiencing something once in a great while or experiencing the feelings associated with the possibility of a thing constantly. Why suffer all the time in fear when the thing hasn’t happened yet?
I watch our Denver Broncos sometimes and they’ve had a quarterback recently who doesn’t handle his fear very well. As soon as things get a little hairy, he freaks out and runs around in a panic, looking for someone to throw to or a way out. This is in contrast to Peyton Manning, who used to be our quarterback. He was so unshakeable. Lots of large defensive men could be running straight at him and he kept his cool.
When I live in fear, I have become the current quarterback. I run around like mad, trying to find something to fix my situation, trying to make something happen, trying to get out of this mess. But when I move my eyes back to Jesus, I can settle down and face even crazy amounts of circumstances that seem too much. And the thing is, they are too much for me. Only Jesus can handle those things in me. And in His life, I am able to stay calm and have peace.
Please understand, I’m not beating up on you if you are afraid today. I’m just reminding you of what I have to be reminded of all the time—God is not small or unable. He is not distant or disconnected. If He was, we should be very, very afraid. Instead, He is involved, connected, all-powerful and able. He knows what we need, and He allows suffering—which hurts and feels like our hearts will explode from the pain. But He doesn’t leave us alone in the suffering. We can get through the pain because He holds us. We can walk through suffering that seems like it will crack us because He carries us through.
If you are afraid today, will you move your thoughts to who God is? Will you think on His love, His mercy, His grace, His lovingkindness, His light, His Life, His freedom? And in setting your thoughts on things above, peace will begin to invade the fear. The circumstances may not have changed, but your attitude will be radically different. And every time the fear tries to weasel its way back in, you come back to Jesus and recognize His Life in you—choosing to obsess on Him rather than all the reasons you have to justify your fear.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10