There’s an intruder who’s been coming around the past couple weeks, knocking insistently at my door. I knew him well in my younger and less experienced days, when I would often open at his bidding. I’d invite him in, entertaining him under the guise of being cautious, concerned or more organized. And truly, those are all noble sentiments and endeavors. Yet more often than not, I’d find myself giving him free run and reign of my mind and heart. And before I knew what had hit me, he would rob me of all peace: heart racing, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I’d swallowed a brick; tension rising and temples beginning to throb.
Fear. It’s one of the enemy of our soul’s favorite playmates.
As I move on in years (just past the half century mark, as a matter of fact) and have faced many a challenge that has stretched me far beyond my own capacities, I’ve learned a thing or two about fear.
No matter how tenderly or fervently he knocks, I can choose not to open. And I have become cognizant of his many disguises and tactics. While perceiving fear’s presence and desire to bust in and take over isn’t necessarily sufficient in warding him off, it is most certainly the first step. When I recognize what’s going on before I’ve been overwhelmed, I can choose to lean into the One who has my back, the God who knows me intimately – shortcomings and all.
Each time I give heed, as fear opens his mouth and whispers in my ear, I start focusing on all those things that feel out of control… or over which I really have no control. My mind begins to ponder how I can escape them, dominate them or whip them into submission. And, as my breathing becomes labored and suffocation sets in, who is at the center of it all? Me, of course.
God, persistently patient Father,
I turn my eyes to you.
When my walls feel like they
are crumbling down,
are my sufficiency,
When my legs feel too weak for me to stand upon, and my strength and courage are sorely fading, you are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. You are the safe place that I can run into.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119: 103-105
When I’m feeling confused and overtaken by fear, God’s Word is both my nourishment and my weapon. It provides me with the truth that I need to dispel the darkness, while skillfully cutting through it like a honed, carbon steel blade. It not only speaks wisdom to my heart, but it packs a powerful punch: accomplishing its purpose, tearing down lies, shining light in the darkness. His Word is living, and is as life-changing today as it was before it was ever spoken.
Fear, take your knocking fingers elsewhere. I will not be opening up to you today. I will instead put my trust in the One who gave his Son for my redemption. And with a heart of thanksgiving, I will leave my worries at the feet of my God, exchanging them for his precious peace. The peace that guards my very heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.