I had lunch with a friend this week and we were talking about the weather, and about wedding decorations and about her cute, lively puppy. As we shared lunch at a lovely restaurant, served by an attentive waiter, nibbling on salads and sipping cup after cup after cup of coffee, our conversation turned from talking about our kids to talking about our fears.
Not the “I’m afraid of the dark” kind of fear … or the “Is there a monster under my bed?!” kind of fear … but Fear.
Can you relate? Are you afraid of anything?
The fear that my friend and I were talking about was the kind of fear that starts in the gut of your stomach and travels by rushing adrenalin to your heart and then manifests itself in a panic attack or worse.
We were discussing the ISIS kind of fear … the failing economy kind of fear … the culture is out of control kind of fear.
The big stuff. Fear with a capital “F”.
Even as we were talking, I felt my mouth go dry and then that dismal, sobering feeling of despair rushed over my heart.
It was at that moment that I looked at my dear friend and said, “This is when we need to stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves.”
I started telling my sweet friend a story that had been seared into my memory from an experience that I had about 35 years ago.
Craig, at that time, was on staff at a church that was fixated on the end times. The pastor told us to store up food in our attics and to hoard water in our basements in order to prepare for “the end”.
What?! I had just given birth to our first son and I couldn’t imagine the world coming to an end while holding this gift of new life in my arms.
The fear that was simmering in my impressionable heart was enormous and I was teetering on the edge of depression.
Now, every Monday night, during this fearful and anxious time in my life, one of my single friends came over to our 1,000 square foot home and we watched “Little House on the Prairie” together while she got her baby fix from holding precious Matthew.
Do you remember the Ingalls’ family? Pa … and Ma … Laura … Mary … Carrie … and their good old bulldog Jack?!
One autumn Monday evening, the TV story of the Ingalls’ family was about a particularly difficult winter through which they were living. The snow was piled up past the windows of their log cabin, their food was scarce and the family wore coats, mittens and scarves even while inside the family home. Laura and Mary daily went out into the lean-to where Pa had placed the discarded cornstalks from their annual harvest. Laura and Mary twisted these cornstalks into small pieces of fuel for the family fire. The Ingalls’ sisters’ hands were bleeding from this daily chore and their little lips were chattering; but these girls would sing the hymns of the church while they twisted the cornstalks.
“Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.”
Does anyone else remember this episode?
God spoke to me that evening while I watched this pioneer family television series with a bowl of popcorn in my lap.
“Carol … life has always been hard. Every generation has faced difficulties and challenges. But I have been faithful. I never leave my children. I will be with you and with your family no matter what the future holds.”
Nearly four decades ago, God spoke to my fears through a wholesome story that had actually taken place over a century earlier.
But back to my lunch conversation this week …
And so my friend and I while drinking coffee, stopped listening to ourselves and began talking to ourselves!
My dear friend and lunch companion shared with me a Scripture that God had given to her as she dealt with her out of control fears.
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to a place that I have prepared.” – Exodus 23:20 NIV
Wow! We both looked at each other in amazement! God, the Creator of the Universe, the Father of Jesus and the Giver of the Holy Spirit, loves us so much that He sends angels to help us and to guard us along the difficult places in life!
Wow! Just Wow!
My friend and I realized in that moment that there was absolutely nothing to be afraid of! We serve a God Who is well able to take care of every generation, in every circumstance no matter the risks.
We also realized that our mistake had been in focusing on what was wrong with this world rather than staying focused on the immense power of an all-loving God.
My heart recalled the words of David, the Psalmist and the giant-killer, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His descendants begging for bread.” – Psalm 37:25
What are your fears in life? Are you afraid of cancer … of losing someone you love … of poverty … of who will be the next president?
Are you anxious over the balance in your checking account … of rebellion in one of your dearly loved children … or whether you will still have a job at the end of the month?
You need to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself!
You need to start focusing on the power of the God of angel armies and stop fixating on the fears that will probably never happen!
And in that place, of being captivated by the Father and by Who He is, a sweet peace will rush over your heart just like it did for Lisa and I in the restaurant. You will find, like we did, that your fears will disappear as you determine that no matter what your circumstances may look like, you will simply remember that He is faithful. Time after time after time.
And the next time you find yourself afraid, perhaps you would find that a powerful antidote to fear is to simply sing in the lean-to, just like Laura and Mary did.
“I know Who goes before me … I know Who stands behind!
The God of angel armies is always by my side!
The One Who reigns forever … He is a Friend of mine!
The God of angel armies is always by my side!” -Chris Tomlin