The Fear Factor

We live in a time of turmoil and uncertainty.  It’s no understatement to say that our security bubble was permanently popped when the global financial crisis hit hard in 2008, leaving millions without jobs and unable to pay their bills.  On top of that, we are daily bombarded with news of political unrest and rumors of terrorism.   Even before financial and global worries, stress was ever present in the form of discontent in our personal lives and constantly striving for more.   All this added together takes a serious toll on our state of mind and we find ourselves anxious in all things instead of being anxious in nothing.

The anxious feelings that come when we worry about the “what if’s” causes fear to grip our hearts.  I have learned from personal experience that anxiety and fear are brothers and I don’t believe you will find them far apart. Fear and anxiety visit us in so many ways and are the fruit of real or imaginary problems.  It can be as abstract as a fear over not living up to a certain life style or image, or as real and complex as facing a life threatening disease.  Regardless of the source; Fear always grows. And after it has mastered itself in one area of our lives, it moves on to yet another; growing like ivy, weaving and wrapping itself around everything we do.
We know that a fearful spirit leads to an unsound mind because scripture tells us that “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind”  2 Tim 1:7.  Since that verse sets fear opposite to power, love, and a sound mind we can know that unbridled fear causes us to be powerless, loveless, and unstable. I once heard Beth Moore say that we must stop fearing our “vain imaginings.”  In other words we must stop fearing the things that “might” happen because they probably won’t happen and even if they do, we must trust God with all our tomorrows.  After all, we can’t control them anyway.

When I find myself fearing, I realize that more often than not it’s because I am trying to control the outcomes of my life and the lives of those I love.  But the simple truth is that only God controls outcomes and we stand on shaky ground when we want to do God’s job; and who am I fooling anyway when I try to conjure up better outcomes than the God of the universe.
It is medically proven that stress and anxiety kills and it causes illnesses of every kind because it suppresses our immune system.  That is undoubtedly why there are so many scriptures telling us not to worry and not to fear.  Fear is never from God.

What would our lives be like if we could reach a real state of peace and courage in our lives?  That no matter what is at hand; we are okay with it and in faith, leave the outcomes to our God.  I am realizing that we must hold loosely to everything God has given us and look upon an unwelcome situation as a new beginning, an adventure, and as something we can grow from. 

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your request to GOD. And the peace of GOD which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in CHRIST JESUS.”

By Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Faith, Love, and Flying

A few weeks ago I flew cross country with my husband to Manhattan and upon boarding the plane he graciously let me have the window seat.  Directly related to this wonderful trip is the fact that we left our older teenage boys home alone, without supervision for 5 days.  Now, I know this last situation is enough to have any mom on Xanax…and while we boarded the plane I was wishing I had a prescription for it as visions of pizza for every meal and dishes stacked up to the ceiling danced in my head.  Not to mention the anxiety tap dancing around in my stomach about them making it to work and school on time … or at all.

During takeoff I watched out the window as all that is familiar to me became smaller and smaller until it was gone from sight and all I could see were the clouds below and the long, silver, strong wings holding us up in the air 37,000 feet above the earth.  While staring out the window and listening to the muffled roar of the jet engines I started to ponder God’s love and faith.  I had faith the engines and wings would and could sustain flight all the way to New York.  I pondered the shape of the wings with their strong metal wrapped securely around the jet engines creating the look of mini metal hills poking up over a silvery landscape.  I had faith in the wings and engines, even if the faith was a little shaky.

I thought about how snug and secure we all were inside the fuselage sipping our sodas and coffee, reading books and magazines, people talking and laughing.  All of us secure in our own thoughts.  This picture is like a mini snap shot of faith and God’s love.  We move about each day in our own world going to work or school, running errands, taking care of others, secure in our environments having faith that God is with us helping us throughout the day.  Some days may be hard and our faith in God’s love may get a little shaky, but his love is still there holding us up, keeping us strong, so we can move forward toward our goal of a life lived well for God.

Sometimes we have to entrust our loved ones into God’s hands, trusting him to wrap his wings of protection around them, draw them to his breast where they will be safe. This can seem harder than trusting a jet to sustain flight 37,000 feet above the earth.  Then I remember that God is the God who gave man the intelligence to create the jet and we, His children, are securely wrapped in his protective wings.   

I had anxiety about leaving my boys home alone even though they are reasonably good kids and honestly, I have to admit I called or sent text messages maybe a little more than was necessary.  All the unknown factors where the cause of my anxiety and I needed to let go of my desire to control them and choose to trust my kids, and have faith that God not only could but would answer my prayers for their protection.

When I got home my house was still standing, both boys looked proud of their sustained independence having neither missed school or work, and the house was not only standing but it was reasonably clean. 

There was a surprise waiting for me when I got home, a new pet named Walter who is a Red Faced Duck; we googled her to find out exactly the breed.  The story goes that the boys rescued her from the side of the road where she was struggling and wounded.  They built a cage for her and purchased the right food, they were taking great care of Walter. The interesting thing is Walter has a broken wing and the boys were nursing her back to health until her wing is strong enough to fly.

Psalms 36:7  How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 91:4  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart.

Debora Shelford Hobbs