Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fleeing from Fear

Fear. It can grab your heart with its icy-cold grip, tie your stomach into knots, paralyze you into inaction, and shut you down emotionally and physically. Or it can more subtly cast a heavy pall, stealing joy out of your days, dampening your spirits with its heavy, constant presence.
Over and over again in His Word God admonishes us to not be afraid, as in these, some of my favorite verses: Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand., and Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
Yet fear is an enemy we all deal with; we all experience it to one degree or another, usually every day of our lives. Why is this so, why do we fear? And how should we deal with fear when it attacks, as it inevitably does and will?
We fear because we don’t entirely trust God to work towards our best interests—because we have a lack of faith. (Ouch!) We fear because we don’t turn over and release our fears to Him. (And then leave our concerns with Him.) We fear because we aren’t yet perfect, and don’t love our Father with a perfect love.

Our Father is a good Father; He made us, He redeemed us, He loves us with an everlasting, unfailing love! We can trust Him to work good for us in every situation, if we will allow Him to do so. He wants us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5, so that He can bring blessing into our lives.
The opposite of fear is faith; when we are lacking in faith, we can ask Him to give us faith, the ability to trust Him, as the father of the possessed boy exclaimed to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I suspect you are like me. Often I hold onto my fears like they are a life-saving device instead of the serious hindrance which they are, and a “sin that so easily entangles”, Hebrews 12:1. We must turn them over to the One who has the power to resolve our fears!
In order to release our fears to the One who cares for us, the One who implores us not to fear but to trust Him, making a list of fears is a helpful practice to help us confront our fears and become aware of them.

Philippians 4:6 is a powerful illustration of how to turn over our fears! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” With thanksgiving our cares should be prayed about, turned over, then left with God, similar to the process of mailing a letter—when written it may be fretted over, but when left in the mailbox, it’s usually not given another thought.

Typically we trust that our mail will be picked up and delivered to the receiver—all without our help. When we turn over my fears, God is faithful.  He fulfills His promise: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Even though we aren’t perfect, we are told to aim for perfection. I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

The more we allow God to enable us to love Him with perfect love: to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30, the less we’ll walk in fear and the more we’ll walk in His love. Isn’t walking in the power and might of our Father’s awesome love much more preferable to living in a stronghold of fear?

Today may we be free of fear; may we trust God entirely, turn over our fears to Him, and love Him with all that we are. May we be like the writer of Psalm 34:4: ”I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Our loving Father tells us that He “has not given us a spirit of fear, but has given us a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind”, 2 Timothy 1:7. Today may He enable us all to walk in His love, power, and with the mind of Christ; He is able!

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