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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Facing Our Fear

 One of my favorite movies is called Facing The Giants. It is an incredible story of faith and hope seen through the eyes of a small-town high school football coach and his team. Both are facing insurmountable circumstances that are testing them to the absolute limit. They are faced with the choice of whether or not they are going to "face the giants" and confront their worst fears. Will they trust their own judgement, or will they dare to believe that God has a different plan?
 The thing that makes this movie so relevant is that "the giants" aren't just for the story - they exist for all of us...in real life! Every single person faces certain fears each day, fears that determine who they are and choices they are making. For some, these fears are so strong that they actually hold a physical impact on them, causing stress and strain in the body...better known as panic attacks. They can feel the blood pressure rise, the heart rate elevate. These people tremble at the thought of a potential situation where these fears might arise. Regardless of the degree to which these play a role in all of our lives, we must acknowledge that these fears exist and that they have too great an influence on our day-to-day existence. They have taken up residence with us on the other side of the door. They control us more than we perhaps want to admit. They come in many forms and are different, depending on the person and their past:

Fear of Failure - The need to meet certain standards in order to feel good about yourself.     Your worth is tied to how you perform. Anything less than meeting the expected standard results in a personal sense of devaluation and failure.

Fear of Rejection - The need to be accepted by certain people in order to feel good about yourself. Your worth is tied to what others say and think about you. Anything less than their total acceptance results in an inability to receive love and a hyper-sensitivity to others' options of you and a feeling of rejection.

Fear of Shame - The feeling that the shame of your past makes it impossible for you to change or experience true happiness, peace, or joy right now. Your worth is tied to your past. You think you are the way you are. You feel stuck. This leads to a sense of hopelessness.

Fear of Reproach - The sense that you have been despised or become the object of contempt. Your worth is tied to anything that causes people to point the finger of accusation against you.

Fear of Inadequacy - The sense that you are unworthy of love and lesser than another because of your appearance or abilities. Your worth is tied to your looks and your thoughts that you're not good enough; somebody else is always better than you.

Fear of Change - The sense that change is always seen as a negative. Your worth is tied to the security of your present circumstances. This results in an inability to take responsibility, to take risks, and to grow.

Fear of Death - The sense that you are unprepared to face death, perhaps because of an unexpected health diagnosis or of an impending life-threatening scenario of another kind. Your worth is tied to your physical health. Anything expect total health is considered cause for anxiety and fear. 

Fear of Vulnerability - The sense that appearing weak and vulnerable is a bad thing. Your worth is tied to being strong, tough, and in control and giving the best impression to others that you have it all together. This leads to an unrealistic self-reliance and an inability to be honest with yourself and others.

 There are so many other ways that fears can manifest themselves to us. They are, without a doubt, some of the most powerful enemies that we have. Yet at the root of these problems  is a failure to believe and trust God. When we lack the faith to know that the One who formed us, who sees everything about us, is able to guide every aspect of our lives, we become anxious and discontented with our circumstances. We want to see them with our human understanding, to rationalize based on what we think we know and desire. Such man-centers thinking fails to put believe into the all-knowing plan of God, to release the feeling of entitlement to look at life with our own perspective. It is the lack of using our spiritual senses to fall into the ever-present presence of our Creator. 
 For every giant that we face, God sends himself to fight for us. We are not alone with our fears as we want to think. We must open our minds to the fact that we do not fight on our own. The Maker of Heaven stands ready to move and give us the victory. Of our own will-power, we cannot simply decide to tell our fears to leave. But as 1 John 4:18 says,

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."

No human possesses this "perfect love." The love we have is not strong enough to destroy such fears. But the God who is the very essence of love, the very definition himself, His love is perfect. His love has the power to do beyond what we could ever hope or dream. As the characters in Facing the Giants discovered, fears shrink at the sight of God's light and, through His enabling, everyone becomes possible, tolerable, manageable. 
"Be anxious for nothing," Jesus tells us, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). 
Do we believe Him?