Anxious Fears?

Sean, my son, is planning a trip through Montana and Wyoming this Summer with his family.  He sent me this note -“We are talking about grizzly and moose encounters  … Landon (just finished 1st grade) slaps his face and says, “OOOOOHHH NNOOOO! A moose can run 35 mph and I can only run like 5 mph. I’m done for!”   Yes, I know we should not make light of the fears of others even if we think they are unfounded. But, there is humor there because Landon’s chances of needing to outrun a hostile moose are close to non-existent. 

A pastor noted a visit to an adult Sunday School class where a frenzied discussion had overtaken the room. Everyone was talking about “abortion, gay marriage, transgender acceptance, hate crime laws, political shenanigans, the coming world government, the antichrist, the President, and the possibility of an armed uprising in America so everyone had better have plenty of ammunition. Also, blood moons, Armageddon and Joel Osteen.”  Fear ruled that moment! Quietly, he asked them what the study text for the day was, a gentle reminder of the importance of remaining anchored to the Word.

Do you feed your fears? 

If you watch the endless loop of ‘news’ on your television, you will soon become convinced that the ‘end of the world as we know it’ is right around the corner.
If your Bible reading and study focuses on a steady diet of apocalyptic texts you will likely become consumed with conspiracy theories, seeing evidence of ‘the end’ in every headline.

If your conversations with friends slips often into observations about how quickly the world is falling apart, you are going to begin to believe that all is lost!

Choosing to be wise- cultivating good habits, eating a healthy diet, limiting exposure to risk – is good.

It is a tragedy that so many Americans are convinced that it is possible to create a totally safe and predictable world by writing endless regulations, observing scrupulous hygiene,  and/or do all the ‘right’ things, whatever they may that to be.  When an accident interrupts their plans, when a cancer diagnosis threatens their future, or when they can no longer pretend that they are masters of their fate because of events beyond their control; they are shocked, dismayed even, ready to conclude that hope is lost! It isn’t. Life goes on, flowing around the odd, the awful, the unpredictable; even death itself.  Attempting to eliminate all risk by avoiding every possibility of harm or danger will lock us into a very small life without the joy of discovery or creativity or the knowledge of the goodness of God. 

Christian, we can choose to live fully, reducing fear’s control over us, by exercising real faith.
Faith is not a choice to live in a fake world, nor does faith require us to be eternally optimistic. Too much of what passes for ‘faith’ is just happy talk, an attempt to ignore reality with spiritual cliches.  Jeremiah’s example inspires me.  He had lived through an awful invasion, witnessing the horror of brutal war, and was left reeling with confusion and fear.  But, he chose faith. He wrote: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:21-26, NIV)  His faith grew out of the choice to anchor himself in the eternal reality of God that envelopes the present mysteries of life that can make us afraid.

Faith is not an abstract concept! It is relational, the pursuit of God.  When fear leaves us frenzied, He invites us to the quiet, one of the most difficult choices for many of us, me included. Our natural response to anxiety is to run around looking for someone or something to ‘make it better.’  The Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)  Be intentional. Look up. Wait.

Ann Voscamp wrote of finding healing as she emerged from the stress of life in the era of COVID isolation as she watched her little flock of newly shorn sheep in a pasture. “When the heart is full of trouble, step outside to see that the whole earth isn’t only full of trouble, but ultimately is full of His glory. The way to navigate loss is to lose all that distracts from the glory of God. Step outside and watch the Maker of clouds overhead, lift the clouds within.  He who breaks the clouds can heal our heartbreak, and the Maker of a million stars can heal every kind of broken heart.”  (https://annvoskamp.com/2021/07/how-to-heal-find-a-way-through-loss-a-journey-part-1/)   She uses a phrase that caught my attention:  “Adoration of God’s glory short circuits rumination of our problems.”  This, she says, is ‘glory soaking.’   

You don’t have to go somewhere exotic, take a long pilgrimage, or escape for days on end.  We can ‘glory soak’ and find faith’s renewal by taking a walk in the woods with eyes wide open, by sitting cross-legged on the floor with a toddler and entering into her world of wonder, by listening the sounds of a summer thunderstorm rolling overhead, by sitting in an empty church meditating on a Psalm, by holding a friend close for a moment reminded of care and love.  God is here now, with us, if only we will perceive His Presence.

Are you feeding your fears? Step back and remind yourself –
“The Lord is my portion … Great is your faithfulness!”

Here is a word from the Word.  I pray it will be an inspiration of renewed faith for this day.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV)

______________

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

(Elenyi sings this anthem beautifully – enjoy!)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
or I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Oh and You are mine oh

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm © 2012 Hillsong Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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