Charles deFoucauld said, “The thing we owe absolutely to God is never to be afraid of anything.”
I know, who is this guy?
Fear seems to singe the tips of our fingers, crowd the edges of our mind and is the first thing to push our feet faster when we fail to get a handle on our emotions. It was fear that had me running into the woods one night after hitting a passing car with an egg. Forty years later, I can still hear the screeching of brakes, and the threat of madness coming from the irate man; “I’m coming to kill you.” He actually tracked us into the woods!
We don’t have the luxury of seeing a split second into the future. If we could, how would it change us? If we could see the outcome of our action, or inaction in the face of fear, would we be more, or less emboldened? On the surface it looks like more, but if we could see outcome, it would deaden our faith. Not knowing gives us the fodder we need to put faith to the test. It’s a tool God uses to build resilience in the fiber of our heart for whatever comes against us.
What do I mean by a tool? When we don’t know the outcome, when we are too afraid to move one inch in any direction, or are simply overwhelmed by too many options, it’s then that God wants us to stop and devote, the singular tool in the Christian’s pocket to bring senses back to faith, instead of letting them run unbridled.
The job of devotion is to take our eyes away from the grueling pace, conflict and pressing issues, and move them up, to begin to understand the place we stand, the context for the events and circumstances that too often dim our view. Fear heightens when our world becomes small and suffocating. That’s why the Psalms talk about God bringing us out to a broad place. Wide avenues give us more options, and narrow ones tend to heighten stress. Ask me, I live in Brooklyn.
Here’s the best part. When we devote, God has a chance to lift our chin, to peak over the peripheries of our normal vision. When that happens the immediate no longer has a strangle hold on the mind, nor does conflict suffocate the heart. Only a glimpse, but it’s enough to pour hope into us. It allows the hard pressed and fearful to see another world, a higher more transcendent picture than the hard scrabble street level we often wade in.
Are you facing uncertainty? Are you eating failure and risk for breakfast? Even though you don’t know when He will lead you out into that broad place, every time you kneel in prayer, you can be ready. “If you seek me you will find me, if you seek with all heart.” To be ready in scripture means to anticipate His presence. When He shows up, fear no longer plays the bully, but is used to test and approve what our hearts wanted all along, a clear view of Him!