I’m still in Germany (home tomorrow). Today we have another guest who is going to talk about our problem with fear. After the huge snowstorm in January of 2016 here on the East Coast, she told me the sad story about an elderly woman who died. As we processed what happened and how her fear got the best of her, we began to notice a lot of parallels to how we as women, handle our fear. As a result, I invited her to write about these insights and share her journey with us.
Scared to Death (Guest Blogger)
Here’s the kicker, she did tell someone. “I’m just going to stay in your parking lot, I’m afraid to drive in the snow.” She was elderly, a long way from home, perhaps confused, certainly afraid; yet with enough clarity to know she needed help. So she did what you’re supposed to do ~ tell someone.
That Friday afternoon the impending blizzard loomed like a giant in front of her. Figuring she’d done the right thing, she pulled into a parking space to eat her dinner. She waited, quietly and alone.
They found her Monday morning … frozen to death inside her vehicle. It had been plowed into that same parking space less than a baseball’s throw from the restaurant’s drive-in window. The same drive-in window where she had told someone. “How on earth does THAT happen??” was everyone’s first response. From a logical standpoint, none of it made sense. Initial encounters with someone’s fears rarely do.
Segway over to a comment I recently read in response to a blog post on abusive spouses. Paraphrased it went something like this, “I had already put deadbolts on the doors into my bedroom. One night, unable to get through the locked doors, I saw my husband attempting to climb through my bedroom window when he thought I was out. I decided I needed to put locks on the windows as well.” I could almost hear her voice quivering. I couldn’t get the painted picture of Rapunzel out of my head. The fair maiden living in a locked tower. I shuttered. I can’t imagine how huge that presence must have felt to her in that dark space.
“Who lives like THAT?!?” was my knee-jerk response. Then the small voice in my own heart spoke … “You did”.
True … that seemed like ages ago. How quickly we tend to forget the power of a past enemy once it has been relinquished to its proper place.
The truth of the matter is that fear does have a voice – sometimes it roars and sometimes it whispers. Yet the most important thing we need to know is that ultimately it must be faced. On a day-to-day basis as a maturing body of faith, we are wise to know that. In situations of crisis or abuse it is imperative to have an even keener understanding of the voice of fear ~~ so many of us don’t. This is essential to realistically and honorably manage and monitor ourselves and our environments.
Let’s begin to examine fear by understanding three of its strongest characteristics. Next week we will learn how to use fear as the fuel to power our lives instead of decimating them.
First and foremost in order to tame fear, we must acknowledge its existence and honor its presence. There are eleven nouns and nine verbs in the Hebrew and Greek biblical language that are regularly used to translate the words “fear” and “to be afraid”. That’s a lot of shades of fear!
By this, we understand fear truly is indeed a real force to be reckoned with. Its existence is not up for debate. The key to our success lies in the reckoning.
Biblically speaking we are told 365 times throughout scripture “Do not fear.” However, not once do we read that we are not to acknowledge its existence or honor its presence. Goliath was a real man, in real clothes, with real weapons and a very loud voice ~ persistent in his demand to be heard. I am sure he was terrifying to look at. The epitome of the word bully. That’s both real and frightening.
However, owning fear disproportionately is scripturally what we are warned against. Why? Because it locks us into dark places, pushes us down slippery slopes, and given enough power over time it can eventually deliver us over to death in a lonely parking lot.
“Do not fear” is the mandate that keeps us from harm’s way. It holds us accountable to action. Once we know about fear, we are required to do something with that knowledge. The Israelites had let Goliath stand there for a long time. Every moment he stood there his voice grew larger ~ from a whisper to a roar ~ freezing the Israelites in their tracks.
Secondly, fear, like Goliath always has a message it wants to deliver. The problem is those messages can run from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is our job to learn to speak its language and interpret the meanings of those messages. Life often offers up situations and circumstances that do and should evoke in us the feelings of fear.
The thought of going off a bridge or highway in a blizzard would evoke a natural feeling of fear. The sight of a strange man trying to climb through a bedroom window in the dark should prompt a physical response to terror.
However, it's in the interpretation of those messages that our battles are either won or lost. Our success lies in the ability to discern fear as the friend who is kept close, and we know fondly, or the enemy whom we keep closer in order to scrutinize intimately.
Lastly, in the scrutiny lies our victory. We, like David, need to deliver the right message into the face of fear.
We must learn to speak our truth even if our voice shakes. In order to do that, we have got to develop the proper grid through which to run the giant who continues to demand our attention. (Tweet that)
That grid formula works off of a two-pronged approach. We begin with a realistic assessment of the circumstance in front of us. We then take that circumstance and measure it in relationship to the size of the God who has gone before us.
When we approach the fear from that perspective, it becomes a game changer. We are no longer merely dragging our fearful circumstances before the throne to make God aware of them in our lives. As a guest of its host, we now escort our circumstances and fears into the presence of God to introduce them to who He is.
David made the introduction this way, “You come at me with spear and sword,” he spoke to Goliath (a very true statement). “I come at you in the name of the Lord.” (also a very true statement). David’s victory was secured in the moment he introduced Goliath to his host ~ the Lord God Almighty. David knew who needed to meet whom. He stood firm, confidently making the necessary introductions.
While David had an action to take, the action went beyond the simple introduction. His ability to turn the fear on its ear to fuel the slingshot had been fine tuned in the pastures fending lions and bears ~ a slow build that eventually allowed him to face his ultimate nemesis. This single positive action is where his victory was secured.
Here’s the formula: size the fear, measure it against your God, make the introduction, put your previous practice to use, and then transfer that fear into the fuel that will power the victory. That’s the grid!
The lynchpin of his victory lay in the fact that he brought a keen understanding of who his enemy (or fear) was in comparison to the size and power of his God. His past experiences enabled him to refine fear to fuel. It had little to do with his own size in that moment, but everything to do with his ability to leverage his enemy in the face of danger.
So today, in preparation for next time, let’s stop for a moment and name our fears ~ literally list them. Then invite them into your presence as you would guests to a dinner party. Assess the places of importance they occupy in your life, then assign them seats. Prepare them for next week where we will give them the proper honor due an esteemed guest. We honor them properly by learning to hear their voices and use them to leverage our victories. Go, Valiant Warriors, prepare the band for the victory dance.
Friends, when have you confronted your fears?
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