Yesterday was just "one of those days" when life got the better of me, when people I can normally handle in my life grated on my nerves. All of us have difficult people in our lives, if you don't you either are fortunate, you have a very placid family, or you don't get out much. Perhaps it was the accumulation of running errands all day in pouring rain that made me less than my usual calm self. Although, my son tells me he can tell when I've gone days without my quiet time in the morning (let's not even go there...).
So, what brought about the ponderings about fear? Well, it's interesting that in recent "Comments", Heather talked about the travelling she has to do for the Holidays. A couple of days ago, I was watching the morning news to catch the weather forecast when they kept returning to the scene of a fatal accident on the Interstate where at least three people had been killed. This came about after a teenager from church had an automobile accident last week which killed one of her friends (this was truly a tragic accident that could have happened to anyone). Having a teenage driver in the house, I do lots of praying.
The accident on the Interstate reminded me how tense I would get before we had to travel back to our state to see parents and in-laws. We always returned for Thanksgiving and Easter on heavily travelled roads. (I nixed returning for Christmas after a trip when our daughter was a couple weeks old required a return home in near blizzard conditions, we enjoyed Christmas at home after that.) Even though I no longer travel on Holidays, most of our relatives have passed on now, I still remember the mixed feelings of the anticipation of seeing loved ones vs. the trip to get there. My husband has never felt that fear of the road (which is how we ended up in near blizzard conditions our daughter's first Christmas).
I grew up with my mother's fears. Although I believe she did accept Christ as Saviour, she was never able to make Him Lord of her life. Constant fear caused her to make many bad decisions. The Word tells us fear is a spirit and that God is not the author of fear. I was often fearful in the early years of our marriage. If my husband was ten minutes late coming home from work, I would panic (just like my mother). It is a good thing I learned to tackle fear when, years later, he travelled so much I didn't know what state he was in that day!
I've come a long way since then, most days I am able to conquer fears. There are certain instances when I feel that panic (recently when my son was late and I heard those sirens, just a couple days ago when I realized I'd overdrawn at the bank, etc.) However, most of the time I am able to put fear behind me. I've learned faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is a muscle which, when used often, will grow stronger until you have strength without trying.
I love the part of the Word where it talks about Faith, Patience, Experience, Hope... It is a cycle which begins when we choose faith over fear, then we are able to walk in patience, that experience brings us hope for today and in the next challenge we face. By choosing to walk in faith, we get through those trials like a year without income, and teenage drivers...
So, how did I develop more faith and less fear? At the risk of making it seem easier than it was, it came about in two ways. The first was just lots and lots and lots of practice. Circumstances brought about a need to have faith that He is the provider, that He controls the times and seasons of my life, that He cares even more for my loved ones than I do, and that He is in charge of the world so I can give up even trying to control things.
Then I began to look into scripture about fear, worry, and anxiety. This verse in particular is one He gave me and insight about it that brought about the ability to trust Him even in times of adversity.
Here is that verse in the NIV:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)
Here's the way the New Living Translation puts it:
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love (I John 4:18).
When I was reading that verse (over and over) in the NIV, I felt God speak to my heart that I had been looking at it wrong. I had seen it as...I would stop fearing when my love for God was made perfect. Then I realized it is HIS love that is perfect. (Which I saw later in the NLT.)
When I can walk in the truth that God's love for me is perfect, then I have to know what comes my way has already gone through His will in my life. Of course, we must use wisdom and discretion (heading out on a highway in near blizzard conditions is not using discretion nor wisdom...although obviously He did protect us!).
His Word says He provides all we need and I cannot tell you the number of times (hundreds...thousands) that He has provided in ways I can actually hold in my hand. That does not count the times, most likely many times over what I've actually seen, that He has provided in ways I did not see.
Here is another verse that popped out at me a few months ago, good to remember at such times (Matt: 6:27, NIV):
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Putting that into perspective, will worrying add an hour to the life of the loved one who is out on the roads in bad weather? No...
Will worry get us to our destination without an accident? No...
Faith...faith that God, in His perfect love, holds us in the palm of His hand and has us on His journey for us is what will keep us going. Resting in His faith that He has given us (and not having to work up the feeling of faith, whatever that is, in ourselves.) Worry only causes illness in the long run, worry will not change our circumstance...faith will change our circumstances.
Fear, worry, anxiety...they continue to pop up once in awhile to torment me but I do not live in them as I did when I was younger. Now they are objects of temptation like chocolate cake. Do I eat the cake and raise my blood sugar? Do I accept the worry and forfeit peace and tranquility? Just because we feel those emotions, does not mean we have to accept them.
So there are the ponderings I've been having about fear, all starting as a couple of newscasts in the morning and evenings news...