Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Irrational Fears


I started climbing, in part, because I was afraid of heights. Not so afraid that I wouldn't go close to the edge, but I felt uncomfortable - that the structure or ground might just give way and I would plummet to my death. I started climbing because I no longer wanted to be a slave to irrational fear.

How is that fear irrational? It's irrational not because one shouldn't have a healthy fear of falling - so as to take precautions, to think, to be sure of one's next move. No, irrational in the sense that two people standing side-by-side on the edge of a cliff are equally as safe, yet one may feel safe and the other may feel afraid.

Fear is related to not fully understanding the gear and systems that keep a climber safe. The more one comes to understand how the equipment is made, what is made out of, how it is tested, and how it performs on an actual climb, the more one comes to trust that it will hold a fall.

Fall is scary, but the first fall is the worst. It's difficult not knowing whether the equipment will hold. Will the rope break? Will the metal come undone? Will the safety backups fail? But after a fall one finds that they hold just fine. The second fall is not as scary. The third, the fourth, it begins to come naturally. A fall, a catch, start climbing again. In fact, the more one falls on the equipment, the more one trusts it!

I think that the adventure of climbing and overcoming of fears is a physical manifestation of what happens in our relationship with God. Consider the following verses which speak clearly of God's provision for us:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" Luke 12:22-26

Have you been trapped in a state of fear - wondering where provision would come from? Have you spent hours or days - even weeks, months or years - worrying about the outcome of certain events? Have you frantically made decisions in the last hour weren't sure how God would come through? I have!

At the end of each of those thoughts is the issue of faith and root question: are Jesus' words true or are they not? And if they are true then it is contrary to faith to also be afraid. Faith and worry are related: the more faith grows, the more fear and worry recede. Find yourself worrying? Cultivate faith.

Two people can stand on a cliff and one can be afraid and the other not, though both are equally safe. Likewise, two people can trust in God, and one will worry and the other will not.

So consider, how often have you recognized God's provision in your life? Sure, you've "fallen" - sometimes due to your own decisions, sometimes because of circumstances out of your control. We all have experienced that. The common thread in the one who is less afraid, less worried, is that they have recognized and given credit to God for "catching" them. They have experienced falling and seen that God still provides. The more times God provides, the more their faith grows.

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith." Luke 12:27-28

If God's words are true, then he takes care of us. And if he takes care of us, then we have no reason to worry or be afraid. If you believe that, then cultivate faith in the midst of worry.

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