Where Fear Tries to Tread
Oct 11, 2015 12:16PM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
My 9 year old Little Man and I were out waiting for the bus, watching Bobo the Smith Lawn Chipmunk scuttling around in our front wooded area. He was eating and storing things in his little cheeks.
Little Man was fascinated for quite some time, but then he said:
"Mom, what if a snake gets him today?"
And isn’t that a sign of how we all mature from our innocence and learn the darker side of the world? When fear creeps in where we used to prance about with untainted optimism?
Don’t we all so quickly "go there" in our minds and hearts? Fear is always crouching. Darkness always wants us to think it wins.
2 Timothy 1:7, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
It’s interesting that the King James Version uses the word “sound mind” instead of “self-control.” It suggests to me we are given the tools in Christ to put our minds where they should be. Our minds don’t have to be tossing about at the whims of our fears. We are given the power and love to keep them sound, safe from the torment of crippling “what ifs."
· The chemo doesn’t work?
· We never work through this conflict?
· S/he leaves me?
· S/he never learns to read?
· We can’t pay for college?
· They never learn to live on their own?
· I fail?
· The car dies before we can afford to replace it?
· We never sell this house?
· There’s a car accident?
· S/he never comes home?
· I never get well?
· We die before the kids are raised?
· I lose this job?
You know the drill. The list may look slightly different for each person, but these are some of the thoughts that can quickly swirl us into a panic.
Obviously, fear is not all bad. We need a certain amount to keep us safe and even healthy. But what is the way to measure the right kind of fear and the wrong kind?
How do we tame the beast inside us that often taunts and sometimes grows out of control?
2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
Personally, I take 2 Corinthians 10:5 literally. I name each fear, healthy or unhealthy, and tell it to obey Christ. I ask God to give me peace if it isn’t something I need to stress about. Admittedly, I often have to grab it and mentally drag it back to the standard of the cross, where 1 John 4 says that for whomever confesses Jesus is the Son of God, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
1 John 4:15-19, ESV, John the Disciple speaking
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
We love because he first loved us (emphasis mine).
Hey, Fear of Outliving My Children: You bow to the Mighty Name of Jesus! His eye is on the sparrow (Matthew 10:29-31), and He will not let us go!
Hey, Fear of Not Having Enough: Submit yourself before the defeated darkness on the cross and the eternal light and life of a sacrificing and unconditional Savior, Jesus!
Hey, Fear of Abandonment: You have been conquered on the cross by a Savior Who loves me. I no longer have to listen to your whispers and believe your lies. Jesus will never leave nor forsake me!
There is power in the name of Jesus. Take the love He offered you and don’t waste it. Tell those anxieties, concerns, worries, and panic buttons where they can go!
And lastly, when fear comes to bully us and steal our joy, ask for God’s grace to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, worthy of praise. It’s amazing what a coward fear is when we start talking about the blessings we have in Christ.
When I wake up in the middle of the night with a head spin of anxious thoughts, I start thanking God for His grace in my life, for answered prayer, for my history with Him.
Within just a few minutes, I notice my heart rate down to reasonable levels and the fears scuttling out of sight.
Philippians 4:8, ESV, Apostle Paul
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
So, back to the bus stop:
My response to Little Man when his mind went to Worst Case Scenario and needed to be brought back to Rational and Healthy?
“Oh, Little Man, there are definitely snakes out there, Buddy. But Little Man, Bobo is living as if he has a tomorrow. He's storing up food. He may be careful, but he is embracing the day. Embrace the day, Little Man. Fears will try to push us down into a defeated posture, but hope? Hope lifts our heads.”
Where does your head need to look up today?
Where do you need to replace the spirit of fear with that of power, love, and self-control?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.