Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Up Tight? Out of Sight!

In a day and time when we spend so much effort on feeling safe and secure, it may be difficult to know what are fears really are. Besides, when it comes to fear, we tend to think of big, major, life-threatening possibilities rather than the deep fears we carry in our hearts 24/7. When you think about it, however, it's really quite easy to determine what our fears are. All you have to do is think about what causes you stress in life. Stress comes from what we fear whether real or imagined. What makes you anxious or what do you worry about? Things you fear. And very few of those fears involve life-threatening monsters, bad guys, or catastrophic events. It's usually things that have to do with our doubts, our weaknesses, our insecurities, and our imaginations. What causes most of us stress in life is the fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, fear of disappointing others, fear of being judged, and the fear of not being respected, appreciated, and loved by others.
Do you notice a theme in these fears? Others. We have such a strong drive to receive the affirmation of others that we fill our life with stress trying to get it. The stress of trying to look right, talk right, act right, and just BE RIGHT, so others will like us, admire us, and affirm that we are "worthy" of their praise - robs us of the peace and contentment God wants us to have. Oh - we can't completely avoid it, but at some point, "others" have to take a back seat to God. And the amazing thing is, when we please him, what others think about us isn't so important any more, and when that happens, all of a sudden a great deal of life's stress vanishes and we begin to enjoy "the peace that passes understanding" (that means "others" don't get it).
So, is it safe to say that if we want a good evaluation of where we are in our journey to a deeper relationship with God, we only need to look at our level of stress to see how we're doing? Hey, if "love casts out fear," doesn't that mean it also casts out stress too? Didn't Jesus say something about not fearing anyone in this world, but fearing the One who can "destroy both body and the soul"?
My stress is defined by my fears, but my only fear should be that I disappoint my Father. When that becomes our only fear, what do you think will happen to the stress of life?

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