Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Squawking of Chicken Little

Before I dive into a post such as this, I would like to say two things. One, whenever I share a truth, it is something I am walking through and the Lord is illuminating to me new, or at least in new light. I don't just research a topic to have a teaching to post. I speak to myself as much as I am sharing with you. Second, I loathe being misunderstood. Perhaps it's the people-pleaser in me, but for whatever reason, I desire greatly to have my heart heard in the best way possible. That being said, I also strive to speak the truth plainly, not watered-down, and with love.

We all struggle with fear throughout our lives, perhaps with varying degrees of difficulty or weak areas, but it can root there, nonetheless. We live in an imperfect, fallen world, and with that comes all realms of horror. (And yet, we can't help but watch as it's presented to us entertainment by the media. Hmm.) There are fears every woman knows, and then there are the fears that can only be truly understood once you have children. Suddenly other fears seem manageable in that new light. Perhaps it's fear that we won't have enough (food, shelter, clothes, money) or fear of being alone and rejected. The list can go on and on. My point is, insert your fears -here-.

While our imaginations can come up with enough fears on its own, the world, media, friends and family can easily pile on more thoughts. Watching only a few moments of news is enough to make you think it's time to fall to our knees, beg and fast for our country. Everyday there is a crisis to be averted, a new law to fight, a terror to flee. It can seem as the whole world is 'going to hell in a hand-basket'. Well, perhaps it is. After all, did not Christ himself promise in John 16, "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." We will have trouble! We will have difficulties! But is not the Bible full of those wonderful 'if-then' statements. We will have pain, but He has given us peace and has conquered the world.

God is mysterious, there is no doubt. His ways are beyond our comprehension. He tries His best to tell us, but there are some things we just don't understand. He promises us peace and protection, and yet bad things happen to good people. We've heard 'the prosperity gospel' and 'name it, claim it'. But what happens when we believe He's going to give to us, and nothing happens, or we 'claim it' but are not healed? Our faith weakens. Paul, of whom we have no doubt loved the Lord with all his heart and learned to trust Him and find abounding peace, yet he was imprisoned and beaten until nearly dead...multiple times. He was hungry and alone and abandoned, but that only pushed him nearer to God. We can allow hard times and the fear of living in this world to consume us, or we can choose to push on.

How do we live this out? Walking in faith isn't plastering a smile on your face and pretending everything's fine. Authentic faith is knowing when there is no healing, no provision, and even death, that God is still worthy of worship. Paul said in Philippians 4, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Pray, he says, take your worries to God. God isn't surprised that you're afraid something horrible will befall you and those you love. You aren't admitting something He doesn't already know you think! Cry out to Him and lay down your anxieties.

Second, get in your Word and quiet the voice of the enemy. Psalm 1 says, "BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]." Make the Word of God louder in your life than the word of fear. Don't allow the voices that tell of every horrible thing wrong to rob you of your peace in Him. Don't listen to their counsel; delight in the law of the Lord.

 I'm not suggesting we pretend nothing is wrong in the world and to shut ourselves off from knowledge of what's around us. Christ prayed an amazing prayer in John 17 for us, asking God not to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the evil one. So third, be alert. For the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour. Do what we can with the intelligence God has given us to protect ourselves. Lock our doors. Be aware of what's around us when we're at the store or in a parking lot. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting you to do, or not do something. If you sense you perhaps shouldn't park there, don't. It's better to never know if you were right. Those are specific ways in which I protect myself from my fears, so seek God for direction for you personally. We should be open to God giving us direction for things within our earthly control. If He tells you to do something, be obedient. However, we aren't always supposed to do something about every fear or worry. Not all of us are called to fight a new 'law' that threatens our freedoms. Sometimes we're just supposed to trust God for His protection for us and our families. We already know things will get much, much worse before the return of Christ.

In dealing with fear in our lives, we first have to recognize it, and then lay it before God in petition, and, most importantly, leave it there.  Beyond that, we must trust that He loves us, and those we love, more than we can ever imagine. It is this love that changes us. 1 John 4 says, "Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love." If we make living out the love of God our main focus, that drives away fear.

We are called to be different, to be a light, and a hope. If we don't live differently, what is there to notice? Let us silence the voices of fear in our lives, press on towards that which He has called us, and trust that He works all things out for good in our lives.


grace said...

That's wonderful Lee, thanks for sharing!! :)

Lauren said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I struggle with fear a lot, especially lately as Hubs' departure date draws nearer (for mission trip to Cambodia). It can be so easy to get caught up in those "what if's" and not rest on Truth.