As we make our way along this journey through life, what is our state of mind? Are we courageous? Do we carry in our hearts a love for the things of God? Does the way we are living point those around us to a brighter way? Are we humble enough to be useful to God?
Isaiah talks about the “highway” that is there for the Christian to walk on (Isa. 35:8). In the past weeks and months, God has been gently guiding my wife and me through a dark valley where we have been victims of fear and depression. These are effective tools of the Devil. When we admitted that we could no longer help ourselves, God, in His mercy, reached down, picked us up, and again placed us on the “highway.” Surrounded by and immersed in our own problems, we had been blind to our need. We were also blind to the grace of God. It has impressed me since then that we can know that we are on the “highway.” We do not need to live a life of uncertainty. As God brought us out of our troubles, we were stripped of our familiar views and thought patterns. We now find ourselves back on the road with no choice but to rely on Him to lead.
In the heart of each man, God has created a longing to be at peace with Him. There is also a tendency to want control of our lives as much as possible; hence a continual conflict results in the heart of one who has not fully surrendered his will.
Fears of the future, which come from Satan, sometimes cause us to do strange things that we think will decrease our chances of getting cancer or other sicknesses. Perhaps we hold ourselves to a strict diet or a rigorous exercise program. We argue that we do not really have anything in it, but the fear that drives us indicates otherwise. As the stress levels build, and our bodies wear down, we may begin to experience symptoms that truly do alarm us. The endless sources of information available to us only leave us more informed of all the possibilities. These little practices start small, but they can become obsessive. They continue to grow in number and intensity until we find ourselves slaves to fear and strangers to the tender care of God. Casting about for a tangible anchor, the fearful Christian rejects the way of faith and gropes on in the darkness, ironically distancing himself from the real solution and source of comfort and light.
Fear paralyzes us so God cannot use us. Fear blinds us. Fear will distort and color a situation differently from what it really is. Fear causes us to withdraw from others, which opens the way for suspicion and leaves us in the false belief that we are alone in our fears. We retain these fears in our hearts, believing that no one will understand. Fear can be divisive in our homes. The danger only increases when a husband and wife become united in their fears and begin to support and cater to each other’s deception. We will find ourselves isolated from our spiritual brothers and sisters. Considering its destructive nature, why does fear sometimes seem more tolerable than other sins? Fear is unbelief. It would appear that many fears are rooted in resistance.
If fear is sin, it will need to be dealt with in the same way as all other sin. “There is a place of quiet rest…A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God” (Christian Hymnal, “Near to the Heart of God” by Cleland B. McAfee). Recently, I have gotten a picture in my mind of a place for me at the foot of the cross. It is always there for me. When I come there, Jesus can see me with whatever I have brought with me. I can leave my burdens there, and although in my mind’s eye, it is just a bare patch on the hard ground, I am never in a hurry to leave. There is such release in opening my heart wide, such comfort in being so close to the One who died for me. What did He see in me that was worth dying for? At the cross, fear, together with all our other sins, is put to rest.
With deliverance, God gives peace. Peace that we did not realize we could have. Only after being delivered, can we clearly see the extent of our deception and the far-reaching effects of it. Deliverance from fear is a miracle made possible only by the grace and mercy of God.
We have been paralyzed by fear, but now God asks us to act on that faith that He has given to us. He has work for us. As we try our shaky legs on the “highway,” we find ourselves in new territory and once again open to temptation. The Devil sees God’s child walking by faith and launches an all-out attack, bringing back all the old fears and many new ones. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19).
In the intensity of this trial, we must not lose sight of that which God has done for us. The foundation of His love is still there. The waves of feeling and emotion may be high, but God has not changed. With this temptation, there is a way to escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
If we have struggled with fears for a long time, we will not be used to giving everything over to God. New thought patterns and attitudes do not develop without effort. As we continually come to God with our fears and become accustomed to letting Him lead in every area of our lives, our self will becomes smaller, and God will begin to use us. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment” (1 John 4:18). If we find ourselves at the end of our resources and there appears to be no advantage in walking the high road, let us be reminded that we have access to the great God of love. All other gods motivate their subjects by fear. We have a God who cares for us and draws us tenderly by His love.
As we look to the past, can we find comfort in the convictions and teachings of those first brethren, the apostles, and all those following who fought victoriously? As we look to the future, can we view with a “single eye” that goal they strove for? As we go about our days, may our lives illustrate the power of God in the heart of a sinner, and may we remember that others are also secretly longing for release.
I suppose I have not written anything new. I only hope it will agree with the convictions that you as my brothers and sisters have been willing to share.
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 111, No. 25, December 11, 2013