We are living in white-knuckle times.
You know the experience. It is like when you and your sweetheart are on a roller coaster. You are cocky. You are in control. Everything seems fine as slowly the vehicle climbs the mountain steep tracks. It is a gentle ride. As you climb higher you can see for miles around. It is peaceful and pleasant. This is not bad you think to yourself. You finally reach the top and for a moment, albeit brief moment, you are suspended in space. Everything pauses. Then, all of a sudden the bottom drops out of the tracks, you are descending downward at an alarming rate. You are confident of your immediate demise. You have a death-grip on the seat in front of you with ten fingernails embedded in the cushion. Your knuckles are white. In fact, you have no feeling in your hands. No sound is coming out of your mouth, but something else is about to. You are hurtling through space, spinning, twisting, turning, upside down, right side up. Is there no end to this death trap? You are not sure when this ride will end, but you are sure of one thing: You will never ride this coaster again.
Fear is that internal warning mechanism that signals danger nearby and we had better do something about it. It readies our bodies to flee, hide, or fight. The intensity of our fear is in direct proportion to the immediacy of the danger. Sometimes our fears are legitimate, the danger is real; sometimes our fears are imagined, the danger is anticipated.
Fear. Ever met this beast? Sure you have. It creeps into your ride through life by a dozen different doors. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of crowds. Fear of disease. Fear of rejection. Fear of unemployment. Fear of what others are saying about you. Fear of moving away. Fear of death. Fear of being yourself. Fear of buying. Fear of selling. Fear of financial reversal. Fear of war. Fear of the dark. Fear of being alone.
Ever-present fear is defeated by an ever-present God.
Here’s how we live in spite of fear.
Walk in the light of God’s presence.
Think about it. Does not many of our fears have to do with the uncertainty of things we cannot see or do not know? In other words, aren’t many of our fears hidden in the darkness, both real and imagined?
Here’s the secret: We can face the unknown of the future knowing that God’s presence is with us. In essence, God is like a powerful headlight that cuts through the darkness of the precarious future giving direction and guidance. While we may not see the destination we can at least see the next step.
2. Trust in the salvation of God’s deliverance.
Think about how many of our fears concern themselves with errors and mistakes we have made in the past and the corresponding guilt and fear of discovery. Think about the spiritual nature of our fears. Will someone discover my lack of integrity at work? Will my secret sin be found out? Will my error in judgment cost me the account? Will my affair be discovered? Will my dishonesty catch up with me? Will God ever forgive me for the sins and wrongs I have committed?
Here’s the secret: For all of our sins, our mistakes, our bad judgments, God comes to the chalkboard of our lives and erases it all clean. We need to trust in God’s deliverance, his salvation, his forgiveness, his promise of a new beginning.
3. Rest in the strength of God’s protection.
Think with me one more time. How many of our fears concern themselves with the immediate need for protection and comfort? In other words, some of our fears have to do with our present.
Here’s the secret: When we feel rejected, and inferior, and like a failure, we have a place where we are secure and safe. A place of refuge and protection. As believers in Jesus Christ we all share such a place. Our protection is found in the strong and loving arms of the one we call Father. We keep on resting—continue to relax in the arms of God.
God has given us the light of his presence to guide us, the salvation of his deliverance to rescue us, and the strength of his stronghold to protect us.
What must we do?
Regarding the future, we must walk on in spite of our fears.
Regarding the past, we must trust in God’s forgiveness.
Regarding the present, we must rest in God’s arms.
What does God promise to do? Be there.
William Frey, retired Episcopal bishop from Colorado, told this story: When I was young, I volunteered to read to a student named John who blind. One day I asked him, “How did you lose your sight?”
“A chemical explosion,” John said, “at the age of thirteen.”
“How did it make you feel?” I asked.
“Life was over. I felt helpless. I hated God,” John responded. “For the first six months I did nothing to improve my lot in life. I ate all my meals alone. One day my father entered my room and said, ‘John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up—that’s your job. I want those hung up by the time I get back this evening or else!”
“Then he turned, walked out of the room, and slammed the door. I got so angry. I thought, Who does he think I am? I’m blind! I was so angry I decided to do it. I felt my way to the garage, found the windows, located the necessary tools, found the ladder, all the while muttering under my breath, ‘I’ll show them. I’ll fall, then they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!’”
John continued, “I got the windows up. I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four or five feet away from my side.”
Isn’t that just like God? We can face our fears knowing that God is beside us always.