A thought creeps in. Then his cousin. Then his siblings. Then his friends.
“What if something happens to him?” “What if we don’t have enough?” “What if she thinks I was mean?” “What if they misunderstood me?” “If I tell him, he is going to hate me.” “If I do that, I’m going to get hurt.” If he’s elected, the country will be destroyed.” “If I speak up, I might lose my job.”
Before you know it, your formerly private, comfortable living quarters are invaded. Doubts start repeatedly ringing the front door. Worries are suddenly couch-surfing in the living room of your mind. Fears over-stay their welcome.
Not only does this trio make for poor house guests, they make it impossible to have much space for God. They take up all the available room. They pull down the shades, eat all the food, and junk up the place, leaving our inner lives in shambles.
The Fear-Doubt Ticket
Our ancient ancestors in the desert first elected the Fear-Doubt ticket as their president in an upset victory over the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We’ve been repeating the same contemptible pattern ever since.
With a deadly virus of cowardice and cynicism mixed with a touch of amnesia and rebellion, our forefathers reacted the same as we might have, when they first stood outside the new home God had built for them and assured them they could successfully fight for and inhabit.
Their response seemed eerily familiar:
“If we do what he says, things aren’t going to work out very well.”
“No thanks, God, I don’t think I can do what you want, that seems scary.”
“I don’t think so, our kids might get hurt.”
“God is mean and isn’t looking out for us.”
Siding with the Devil
In the face of the invitation to know a dreamy life they had not found previously imaginable, they permitted their fears to grossly misinterpret all God’s good intentions and they temporarily sided with the Devil. They became co-accusers with Satan (“God hates us”) instead of co-laborers with the God who had responded to their desperate cries with concerned rescue.
Fear makes for abysmal misinterpretations.
A hard marriage, a declining investment account, or a resistant strain of sin that’s pummeling us or someone we love----and we presume God’s inattention or worse, his malicious intentions. “God mustn’t care and is not to be trusted.” What else can we conclude when we let fear take over the airwaves of our inner dialogue?
You Don’t Have to Obey Fear!
And in our present cultural moment when fear is a virtue and worry a sign of responsibility, letting God’s view point and commands be the authoritative voice in our lives is all the less likely. It might even seem wrong.
But Moses, mouthing God’s paternal concerns, reassured his wobbly-kneed constituency this way:
“Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deut. 1:29-31)
We can’t do a thing about the presence of impulses that surge within us when facing an arduous task, a future uncertainty, or some commanded obedience. If we feel afraid, I doubt we can vanquish all feelings of fear.
But we can ignore them.
We don’t have to let them decide our course of action. We can actively fight fear by making sure we don’t confer upon its voice the same authority as God’s. We can sucker punch fear in the mid-section when it tries to jab us in the jaw.
The Neurotic Trinity
Fear, Doubt, and Worry are a triumvirate that makes God-loyalty impossible. If we bow to them, we will always be acting against the God who is against them but for us. If we lend them credibility in our hearts and let them direct our steps, we’ll find it easy to be pre-occupied with our inner voices but difficult to love anyone else fully, even the folks that we think we are protecting by succumbing to the neurotic Trinity’s compulsive exhortations (Fear, the Father, Doubt, the Son, and Worry, the Anxious Ghost).
It’s a healthful practice to disobey fear, distrust our doubts, and worrying our worries by listening to God’s loyalty for, commands to, and affections toward us.
If He is carrying us, who can jar us from his arms? If His strong arm defends our children, then how can we spend all our mental energy in worry for them? If our future is His to form, then how can we step into it defensively?
“Come, let me breathe on you.”
But to appropriate this posture, we’ll need the same remedy that Lucy encountered when she repeatedly failed to heed Aslan’s summons in Prince Caspian, because she was afraid her siblings would make fun of her or would be agitated with her. When at last she saw the great Lion, he said, “Lucy, you have listened to fears. Come let me breathe on you.”
When we discover we’ve become the most nervous kids on the block, it’s a perfect time to come breathe in the life, replenishment, and ways of the One who has not only given us permission to ignore fear, but has adored us so fiercely, that he’s mandated that we disregard it and all its soul-mangling cousins, siblings, and friends entirely.
Contact Eric Youngblood, pastor of Rock Creek Fellowship on Lookout Mountain, at email@example.com