Fear (October 9, 2012)

…Opening To…

We are as sure to be in trouble as the sparks fly upward, but we will also be “in Christ,” as [Paul] puts it. Ultimately, not even sorrow, loss, death can get at us there. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

When the wind had driven them out for about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water. He was approaching the boat and they were afraid. He said to them, “I Am.Don’t be afraid.” (John 6:19-20; context)

…Filling Up…

Yesterday, we talked about anxiety, and I must admit, I gave it a bad rap. Anxiety, in and of itself, is a rather neutral emotion. It can lead to positives and negatives, depending on how we respond to it. I gave it a bad rap yesterday because I was thinking ahead to today – to the kind of anxiety that finds its most common expression in fear.

If, as I said yesterday, anxiety happens when you realize you don’t control the future but have yet to stop trying, then fear comes into the conversation as humanity’s default setting when discussing the future. Some people are afraid of the dark; others are afraid of the monster under the bed or the dwindling savings in their retirement accounts. But the number one thing people fear is the unknown.

This primal fear has its evolutionary uses, to be sure – the guy who didn’t walk up to the exciting new animal with the really big teeth and hungry glint in its eye passed his “fear of the unknown” gene on to the next generation. (The other guy got eaten.) But fear of the unknown has done more than its share of damage, as well. After all, it’s the same fear that keeps us from getting to know people who look and think differently than we do.

Since the future is the most unknown thing around, fear of it is pervasive. And since we’ve already brought up humanity’s default position once today, another serving can’t hurt: When humans fear, they try to control. We think (erroneously) that if we can control (and thereby understand and dismantle), then we won’t fear any longer. The trouble with the future is that we can never control it no matter how much we try to rig the system in our favor (just look at the financial collapse of, well, the world, for evidence there).

This fear feeds our anxiety because we can’t control the unknown future. But that doesn’t stop us from trying.

Okay, I promised that only the first two days of this week would be downers. Stick with me tomorrow and I’ll fulfill the promise.

…Praying For…

Dear God, my anxiety stems from my fears which I too often let loose in my life. Help me to give those fears to you, that I may learn to trust in your perfect love, which drives out all fear. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, thankful that you are always and forever inviting me to walk the paths of trust and hope.

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