HEART LIVING TOOLS
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. - Psalm 27: 1 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me…
- Psalm 23:4a
Bring the "Fear of the Lord" Into Every Life Situation
If the Garden of Eden story tells us anything, it is that we were made with the intention to live without worry, anxiety, distress or panic. It was a perfect picture of shalom ("peace") which is much more than the absence of war or fighting). For many of us, peace most often means that no one is opposing me [life is good on my terms] and no one is upsetting me [life is going my way]. Biblical shalom, includes peace with God, having an unconditionally accepting relationship with Him, and, being confident that He is enough for any situation. It is peace with myself, confidence that I am enough, and with God we are enough. Shalom is spiritual, emotional and physical harmony without regard to the circumstances of the moment. It is a positive source of power in facing challenging life-situations. This kind of peace is a fruit of the Spirit's presence and influence within us (Galatians 5:22) as well as a characteristic of being under the influence of God (Romans 14:17). In fact, Jesus is called the Prince of Shalom. It is a gift from God and not something we can create or achieve on our own.
Adam and Eve could have chosen to live in awe of the intimate relationship and perfect peace they had with God but they were enticed to believe "the Lie" that God did not really have their best interests in mind. They chose to try to be like God and define for themselves what was "good" in their own shalom-project. Adam's response to his first attempt is revealing, "I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself." When we do not live in the "fear of the Lord" we will sooner or later experience the fear of everything else we use to create our own peace. Questions that reveal our fear include "Am I enough?" "Can I do this perfectly enough?" I must do life perfectly if there is to be any validation." "Why can't everyone see that doing it my way is the only way my life will work to give me peace." "I can't leave my abuser because I'm too afraid to be alone." "If you know who I am or what I'm really thinking there will be no peace." So we live with worry, anxiety, distress and panic. We feel and act "as if" God is inadequate, at best, or absent, at worst. We feel as if it is all up to me to create my own shalom.
The definitions of these fear-words give us clues to what is really happening as we experience them. The root behind both worry and anxiety is: to choke, strangle, be wrung out by a perceived or real life challenge. Distress is a combination of:"tress" [twisting in knots] and "dis" [an early name for Pluto/Hades as God of the underworld] a gloomy, wild-haired and life-hating god who was deaf to flattery without any compassion. It was the name given to identify the person who drug corpses out of the Roman Coliseum after battle. In Hebrew distress was like a narrowing canyon, mental claustrophobia. Panic was described the result of being in the presence of Pan, a Greek god with horns, goat legs and tail and the face only a mother could love. Fear is imagining and feeling that Dis and Pan control your future and you face them without God being present or adequate to protect you from them.
These feelings are the exact opposite of shalom that God gives to those who live in the "fear of the Lord" rather than facing life absent a loving and adequate God. Where do you picture God when you are worrying about a future negative possibility? To what are you giving awe or respecting as more present and powerful than God in that imagined situation?
Gaining freedom from worry and anxiety is a process of bringing the "fear of the Lord" into those situations. It is not about being "zapped" and miraculously being without life's struggles. It is the result of submitting to and participating in Holy Spirit's process of the renewing of our mind. It begins with awareness of what is happening in us at the point of our worry and fear and asking, "What is the truth and what is the lie here?" This demands self-discipline to choose actions based on the truth of God's presence against our "feelings" of His absence. It is a process of re-training our mind. Jesus directed us to "look at" and "consider" [intently seek to see the pattern of God's presence] the birds and lilies, and rest in the assurance that if God is attentive and capable for them, He is able to help us face our life-challenges. Then we can join the Psalmist in declaring: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1©2003 Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, HeartConnexion Ministries