What Do You Fear?

How many fears should you have? I believe the number should be zero.

According to WebMD, 19 million people in America experience phobias. A phobia is an intense, prevailing, irrational fear that leaves you powerless over your reactions. These extreme, life-altering feelings of anxiety aren’t diminished by telling yourself your fears simply don’t make sense.  If all 19 million have two fears, the total number of fears is close to 40 million. That’s a long way from zero.

“I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.”—Psalm 3:6, NIV

One fear many experience is aerophobia, fear of flying. It can be triggered by real experiences, like severe turbulence, or imagined ones. Earlier this summer I needed to travel from Nashville to Memphis for a conference and hated the thought of a 3-hour drive. Then, I discovered SeaPort Airlines.

I’ve been on jumbo jets but never anything as small as their fleet. Yet, it was a wonderful hassle-free experience that made my journey fantastic. Small plane, yes. Could I have reached out and tapped the pilot on the shoulder, sure. Boarding at the private airport in Memphis, a German traveler got on with a 2-liter Dr. Pepper. That’s how different it was. If there was ever a smidgeon of fear of flying small aircraft, it’s gone now.

There is a natural purpose for fear when it protects us from danger. The problem today is that people exist in perpetual fear; that’s not how God intended us to live.

When we are fearful, where is our confidence in God? Trusting Him involves refusing to let fear impact how we respond to people or situations. God demands complete trust and dependence.

There are 336 references to the word “fear” in the New International Version of the Bible, including stories of Biblical heroes melting in fear in the face of their enemies. Not so with David as he fled from his son, Absalom.  David commences Psalm 3 counting his enemies, but he concludes, in verse 8, by affirming, “Real help comes from God.” (Message Bible)

What It Really Means to Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10

All right, I admit it. I have hit my meandering stage. The “me” who used to be throw-caution-to-the-winds, drive pedal-to-the-metal, hit a smooooth 80 on the straight stretches—where did she go? I believe I must have slammed head first into the slow lane.

I remember hitting an easy groove once, with an eighteen wheeler following right behind me. Sun roof wide open.  Setting the pace for anyone who wanted to r-e-a-l-l-y drive. Flipping through curves, zipping in and out of the slower traffic (undoubtedly, those were the meanderers!).  And I did it so skillfully that the trucker trailing me honked when our paths separated. He gave me an obvious “that was fun” kind of wave.

My Uncle Andy knew how to enjoy the moment.  He drove from Ohio to Wisconsin to visit us one summer. That’s about 450 miles and he did it without ever touching an interstate highway.  All the way—through small towns, past farms and waving villagers. Uncle Andy meandered for 450 miles. Back then, it seemed to me like a potentially incredible waste of perfectly good travel time. Now, I get it. How classy. How sensible.  Missing nothing.  Absorbing everything.

You neglect so much when you never amble, whether on foot or behind the wheel.  When we walk or run, we’re embarrassed to achieve less than an x.8 minute mile (you pick whatever number it is that fits you.)  At the gym, I glance down at the row of people on treadmills near me and ramp up to something that resembles their speed, even if I am about to propel myself over the control panel.

In this song of David quoted above, God commands us to just slow down a minute. Otherwise, you miss His divinity. Really, when you analyze it, rushing around in a tizzy is so irrational. We rush, then we are forced to take medication to calm us down.

Just for a moment now, stand still. Shut your mouth (I didn’t mean that to sound rude…just be quiet).  Consider His Almightiness. Focus on the magnitude of Who you have working on your behalf.  Quiet your thoughts.  Calm and quietness are qualities that must be cultivated.

Stop careening down the road of life at top speed. Don’t miss the wonder of what God is accomplishing in your life by rushing, pell mell, right past it.  There are wonders all around us that we miss because we are in such a silly hurry.

First, be still. Then, know Who you’re waiting for in the midst of that quiet moment. I can promise you, something wondrous will happen next.

The book of Exodus presents one of God’s greatest promises of His presence.  In verses 18-23 of chapter 33, there is a pivotal exchange between God and Moses. What a great conversation!  Moses said, “God, you told me to bring these people up here but I’m not sure I know where I’m going and even who you are. If you don’t go with us, I don’t want to go a step farther.” God said: “I know you by name.” Moses pressed for more, “Then I want to see your glory.” God said, “If you see my face, you will die. I will hide you in the rock and let you see my back when I pass by.”

Today I am like Moses. I want to pause long enough for a quick reassurance of Who is with me. I want to see just a little bit of His glory.  If we ask, He will allow a glimpse of His splendor to pass by us, as He hides us in the cleft of a rock and covers us with His hand. (Exodus 33:18-23)

What Are You So Anxious About?


D
o not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~

Philippians 4:6 (New International Version)

Anxiety!  It appears to be a commonly accepted illness of our age. Everyone is anxious. Or, at least, everyone has anxious moments. We are nervous, we are worried. We are concerned about everything. We fret. We’re fearful. We choke up, feel nauseated, get migraines and can’t sleep…all because of some very real (or imaginary and anticipated) troubles.

The great psalmist, David, must have been intensely familiar with anxiety. In writing the 139th Psalm, he expressed the assurance that God saw him, knew where he was and knew everything he was going through. David acknowledged the certainty of God’s presence.  To paraphrase, he said:  “If I am up high or down low, asleep or awake, in darkness or in the brightness of day, God, you are there.” But, in that same poetic expression, he pleaded words that can only come from a troubled heart.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~ Psalm 139:23 (NIV)

I have not completely escaped this malady. Today, I am taking my own medicine. I can imagine wild disappointments. Thankfully, most never materialize.  I have those moments, when I woefully predict, like Job:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.~ Job 3:25 (NIV)

In those times, you must make a conscious effort to trade anxiety for peace. There is a peace of God which passes all understanding. And it is available, just for the asking. Next time you feel yourself drifting into one of those moody, hand-wringing moments, stop and remember your past victories. Yesterday’s fears never came.  Speak words of peace and calm to yourself. Make a list of your favorite scriptures for joy, victory and peace.

Replacing negative thoughts must be an aggressive strategy. The Word of God gives us tremendous coping skills. If you take the Word, like medicine, your joy and peace always win!