A friend posted a blog about fear this week, a really good blog that once again convicted me concerning my tendency toward anxiety. The main point was that fear is caused by lack of trust in God. (Read Bryan’s blog here)
I agree. And when I’m afraid of things, I have to ask myself, “Do I really trust God?”, and I admit the honest answer often has to be no. No, I don’t, because if I did, I’d not be afraid of anything.
Now, before you quit reading because you think I’m a pagan in Christian clothing, let me finish the thought. After reading Bryan’s post, I was sitting in my studio glazing a pot and thinking about that. What don’t I trust? What do I trust? What do I really believe?
Do I trust Jesus can save me? Absolutely. No doubts there. Do I trust that he has? Again, a big affirmative. Do I trust that God is in control? Yep. Do I trust that he hears me when I pray? Yes. Do I trust that he’s going to answer? Ah… here’s where it starts to slide. Of course he’ll answer, but I don’t think I ever expect the answer to be yes. But what kinds of things will he deny me? Well, right now he’s denied my husband work with pay. A decade ago my brother died when he denied healing. He’s denied the sale of a condo for my parents, meaning my 73 year-old dad still has to work and can’t retire.
But does he deny me the power to cling to him when life isn’t easy? No, not so far. Does he deny me wisdom as I rack up experience in this world? I say no; you may disagree, but you don’t know who I was twenty years ago. Definitely a rise in the wisdom department. Does he deny me contentment? Actually, no. I’m impatient about waiting on a job, but my life, while not glamorous, doesn’t bother me. Nor does my smallish house–less to clean, and I’m not that great at keeping up with my house as it is. My ancient car–well, today it died, so yes, I’m on foot now and a little discontent about that. But I’m basically content. Would I like a short vacation someplace beautiful? Yes, of course. Do I stomp my feet and whine at God about it? No. Not that important.
So the attitudes and character traits that make me more Christlike, the sanctification part of life, is never denied. But the details, the things I think will improve life, as noble as they may seem, can go either way. Face it, I have no idea what God’s plans are, what he feels will move me toward the sanctification he desires for me. I realize that more every day.
Which begs the question of what don’t I trust. I don’t trust the path will be easy, and I want easy. It’s selfish, but that’s what it boils down to. I don’t want to understand first-hand death, loss, poverty, homelessness, illness, pain. I know God never, ever, ever promised we won’t face those. So it isn’t a distrust of God fulfilling his promises and being true to his word. It’s a distrust of something I wasn’t supposed to hang my trust on in the first place, which is that God is going to fill my life with everything I think makes life excellent. That he isn’t going to take care of me the way I want to be cared for. That his love for me will always be on my terms.
Oh, nothing like facing the sinful flaws in my thinking. And then writing them down. I’m rather glad almost nobody reads these things.
My friend was right. Fear is lack of trust. It’s also a lack of understanding of who God is, what he promises, and what he doesn’t. It can be a huge case of trusting him to fill promises he never made and living up to a contract he never signed, which is really a misunderstanding of his love for me and his Son’s sacrifice to rescue me from my sins. And when I start to get that straight in my head, and know that, even should he ask me to endure difficult things in my life, I don’t ever face them alone and without huge doses of grace and power, I can trust correctly and finally live without anxiety and fear.
I’m going to work hard to take my own advice here, realizing without the Spirit, it’s hopeless. So, Spirit, let’s work on some of these wrong attitudes and move me yet one step closer to trusting you as you are, not as I think you ought to be.