Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Frozen in place

Have you ever watched a javelina - a hog well-adapted for the Sonoran Desert region? Catch them wandering into your yard for a quick feast on your flora or fauna and you will be surprised by how quickly they just 'freeze' in place. In the desert, their brown color makes them blend in as though they were a rock just standing there. In the greenery of your grassy yard, that just looks dumb! They freeze because they are hoping to avoid their predators - they want to survive! Fear can be a pretty disabling thing in the life of animals, but in the life of a human being, it can cripple. Whenever fear is allowed to be the controlling influence, we become dead in the water. Fear is defined as a distressing emotion - fueled by impending danger, evil or pain - whether the threat is real or imagined. There are times that our fears are ill-founded - more "made up" than real - but we treat them as real, just at the javelina might do when being caught in the yard by someone who is unarmed and with no ill-intent in mind.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
(I John 4:7-18)

God's intention is that we will bring our emotions into alignment with what the Word reveals - giving us limitations in where our mind will take us and structure as to how our responses should come. The passage above speaks of the love of God - in fact, it speaks of the fact that God is love. Moving from eternal death (being unsaved) into eternal life (accepting the work of the Cross in our life) takes us into a place of being "in a life of love". This is because God now lives in us - he is love, therefore, love is resident in us. As his love matures in us, we begin to allow the worries we have held onto so tightly to diminish in their hold over us. The one thing outlined for us in this passage is that we need no longer fear the judgment of God - we stand before God absolutely identical to Christ. Why is that? Because when God looks at Christ, he sees us - and when he sees us, he sees Christ. When we look at Christ, we see God. As long as Christ is the center of our focus, we are in a solid place.

We are told to NOT fear - don't fear man and what he may to do us (Proverbs 29:25); the fear of persecution is not to be part of our lives (Galations 2:12); and the fear of death is just not a valid fear any longer (Hebrews 2:14-15) - to name a few "fear nots" in the scripture. God spends a great deal of time telling us about the things we DON'T need to fear when we are "in him" and he is "in us". As a matter of fact, Proverbs tells us that the nightmares of the wicked come true; what the good people desire, they get. The wicked fear what will overtake them - it eats at them, consuming valuable energy, and taking their attention under control. God's people don't need to have that "gnawing" fear that consumes.

Fear has a purpose - it should drive us to the solution for our fear - God himself. He casts out all fear, because he is perfect love - simply put, perfect love is the antidote to fear. As we place ourselves into the hands of a loving God, we are allowing the safety and shelter of his love to become the influencing force in our life - affecting our thoughts, attitudes, emotions. Psalm 27 tells us that the Lord is our light and our salvation and goes on to ask, "Whom then shall I fear?" If God gives all the light that we need for the situation we face - there is no fear of the course we are traveling. If God is our salvation - the delivering force - there is no fear of the end result. That same passage in Psalms goes on to remind us that the Lord is the stronghold of our life - of whom then shall we be afraid? David went on to say, "Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident!" What a tremendous sense of peace he had - all because he was rightly aligned with his Lord. That is the antidote to fear - right alignment. So, the next time fear raises all manner of ugliness in your life - look at your alignment (your focus). Is it on God or the situation? Is it on his love or the perceived threat at hand?

Psalm 34:4 says, "I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from ALL my fears." The antidote to fear is to seek God - the time to seek is when fear is entering - counteracting it before it gets a foothold. God is our stronghold, an anchor. He is our deliverer. He is also the very thing that washes away all fear (the antidote) - he is perfect love. Step into his love and see what fears he will chase away today. Just trustin!