Friday, January 22, 2021

To the Father or Fear

“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” -Phil. 4:7 (The Message)

Fear is…weird. There is no sin in the fear, but what we do after it hits us makes all the difference. We all have emotional “buttons” in our soul that get pressed by a variety of circumstances. And the circumstances over the past eleven months have pressed away! What we do after the “pressing” makes all the difference.

First off, it’s not wrong to have buttons that get pressed. As long as we have a pulse, we’re going to have particular triggers in our psyche that get triggered. Yes, in the absence of fear there is faith. But faith is found in the process. The Gospels remind us that “Jesus began to be greatly distressed and troubled” in the garden before His crucifixion. He even said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:33-34).

Jesus experienced stress and anxiety? Yes, but they were but a springboard to take Him to His Father. His journey to the cross was so difficult but freedom came when He surrendered Himself to His awesome Father-God.

That’s where we get tripped up. Often, we don’t run to the Father first. Perhaps that’s part of God’s providential purpose in difficulty and trial. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “God engineer’s circumstances to bring us closer to Him.”

The truth is, difficulty, trial and fear either bring us closer to God or drive us away from God. We fear what we don’t understand; we fear what we can’t control; we fear unplanned surprises.

It comes down to this question: When (not if) I experience fear, where do I run? Where do I go? “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-discipline.” This verse means we have to discipline ourselves not to meditate on thoughts that increase fear. It means we meditate on the Word of God.

That’s why Jesus never sinned even though He experienced anxiety and stress. He went straight to His Father with it. Even in His humanity He cried out to the Father. After all, there was nowhere else to go.

Unfortunately, sin crept into the fabric of mankind and has provided all kinds of places for us to go. They are tidy, logical places to run to, but none fill the void of purpose and safety.

We run to:

Information: watch the news! No surprises if I’m up to date
Money: the crisis may hit, but the more cash I have, the more secure I feel
Seclusion: if I get away from people and their opinions, I’ll feel better
Exercise: if I’m in perfect shape, then I’ll never get sick

There are many other places we run to, but all are empty, because none are truly secure.

There is certainly nothing wrong with being in shape and watching the news, but when those things become “THE source” instead of a “RE source”, then we’re in trouble. None of those resources ultimately fill the gap.

That’s why David reminds us that our loving God is the only truly helpful place to run and seek peace. “For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent” (Psalm 27:5).

There are no guarantees that God will deliver us out of the difficulty, but He does promise He’ll grant us peace in the midst of the difficulty.

So, buckle your seatbelt and be aware when your triggers get pushed. When they do (and they will), call time-out. Re-create the “Jesus in the garden” experience in your soul and take it to the Father. (Mark 14:32-42). As happened to Jesus, the Father met Him there and Jesus intimately connected with Him. He took some of the disciples with Him and they fell asleep (bless their hearts). It’s a subtle reminder that as important as people are to us, they are never the ultimate answer.

As difficulty and fear fill the air, run, not walk, to our awesome God. Like Jesus, the gift of prayer is our connection to Him.

May we be driven closer to Him…

…as we rest in His care.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Unknown said...

Thank you Joey for your commitment to sharing some of your thoughts and insights within your long-time blog!
I needed the reminder of the difference between running to re-sources versus running to The Source.
I recently listened to one of Mark G.'s video blog's where he included his reminder that worry is a misuse of our imagination.
In this age of information overload the truth of basic wisdom is appreciated!

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