Remember the three little pigs singing so merrily, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?" Well if I were answering that question I would have to say-me, that's who. Fear can wear many faces, but truthfully it's the most formidable giant I do battle with. When David went out to fight Goliath he was prepared to take on the giant's siblings as well. Well when fear comes to my door he brings along two of his brothers, worry and control, to help him divide and conquer. Although it is true that most of my fears tend to be unwarrented, at the time they certainly seem real. Now I'm just like the rest of you, I love to announce to all that I have come a long way in this area, but the distance between where I am and where I should be is what I believe they call a blind spot. I am blind to it, however others are not. This results in them not being overly impressed with my progress mostly because they know that God has so much more for me.
There are so many layers to fear. It begins with a thought. For me it is usually a "what if" worry thought. You know-what if something happens to my loved ones-what if my health gets worse-what if there is trouble in the church. The list is endless, you fill in the blank. If I do not take the "what if" thought captive, then big brother fear comes in to help worry out. This is when I lose my focus for today, fearing about what might happen tomorrow. And it's not just my focus that is gone, but my joy is lost as well. It's as if a huge vacuum cleaner comes in and just sucks the life right out of the here and now.
Worry is something going on in my mind, but fear makes me want to step up and do something. From my vantage point this is never a good idea! Now big brother control comes calling. If I do not turn my fear over to Jesus, I begin to try and manage it-it and everyone else around me. Now for those of us who struggle in this fear area, it may seem easy to hide the control from our friends and family, but we know and it is not a pleasant "knowing."
Looking at worry's progression, we all understand that the end result can move us into a dangerous place. So how are we to defeat such a huge giant? Well certainly not in the energy of the flesh. There is no human strength powerful enough to fight such a foe, but we have Jesus Christ in us, the hope of glory and there is no one who can stand against Him.
We gain the needed strength to face the fear giant through the truth of God's Word, our sword. The particular formula is found in Paul's writtings on our thoughts in Philippians 4:8. In one short paragraph we are given an exact list of things we should be thinking about and at the top of that list is truth. Paul is telling us to make sure our thoughts belong to the nature of reality. God wants me to function according to the truth, not my feelings or fantasies. When I do not stop the "what if" worry thought, I give that one tiny thought permission to grow into all kinds of fear-generating questions about the future. And I don't know about you, but for me that process moves at lightening speed.
Here is the heart of the matter. Paul said to think about things that are true-right? Therefore I must acknowledge that all these so-called future events that my "what if" fears can produce are not real, only guesses at best. No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 not to think about tomorrow, in fact He said NO, not even one thought should be given to tomorrow. How kind He is to put a time limit on what I can handle in a day-24 hours. We have today-that is true-that is real.
We do not reach back, we do not reach forward, but rather we deal with what has been given today. That is real, that is true, and that is where our thoughts should camp.
So when the "what if" worry thoughts come again, and they will, I have two choices. Behind door #1 is worry and his brothers fear and control and behind door #2 is Jesus with truth and peace. As my husband would say, "that's a no-brainer."