January 21, 2008

Fear and Me

Posted in Bad Christians, Working through Life tagged , at 8:23 pm by Matt Porter

Life is about to change–a lot. I’m about to leave my job, pack up my family and our belongings, move to another state, enroll in school again, learn a new career, find a new church, and find a new group of friends and acquaintances. And that’s just plain frightening.

What will I encounter? Will I be able to support my family? What will people here say about our leaving? Will I be able to handle the load of work plus school plus family? Will my family be able to handle it? On and on and on they come. As the sparks fly upward, surely man was born to doubt. (Apologies to Job.)

But as Christians, aren’t we supposed to trust God? Shouldn’t that trust replace our fears and doubts? We sing plenty of songs which talk about that: “Trusting Jesus, that is all.” “What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?” “Be not dismayed, whate’er betide; God will take care of you.” The songs seem almost as numerous as the doubts.

So what to do? On the one hand, I have the very valid feeling of fear. On the other, I have the commands to trust God to provide and to cast all my cares upon Him and the like, reinforced by the hymnody of the Church. How do I reconcile my experience to the ideal seen in both Bible and song?

If I’m learning one thing from this stage in life, it’s that mastering my emotions is a process. Despite all the advice and encouragement and preaching I may get, there’s nothing that’s going to make it easy. In fact, I’d be worried if I didn’t have any concerns or fears about the future. My roles as husband and father demand that I look and plan ahead to take care of my family.

Those very songs about trusting Jesus are also proof that other Christians in other places have doubted. They needed the encouragement in those songs, or they wouldn’t have written them. One does not write, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song?” without experiencing those painful emotions. My doubt and fear places me squarely within the normal Christian existence, rather than outside of it.

So what should my response be? To acknowledge the fears, as a start. I think many Christians are afraid of being afraid. We’ve been told so often that doubting is a sin that we’re afraid to even admit to ourselves that we’re doubting. To sort through the fears, discarding those that have no basis and making plans for those that are reasonable. And most importantly to admit that no matter what my plans, I cannot control my circumstances, and must trust God to work in whatever situation I find myself.

Sounds like enough work to keep me busy for, oh, the next ninety years or so.

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3 Comments »

  1. Lisa said,

    I know the feeling!

    I am about to post a poem on the topic on my xanga site. It seems to be a common theme these days! 🙂

    Lisa

  2. Karla said,

    We are praying for you all and love ya! You are right ; we were just recently feeling these same things. It’s a scary thing to move everything and start all over; takes a lot of faith in HIM. God WILL lead you through; that is for SURE!!!

  3. Diane said,

    You are at the point, as they say, where the rubber meets the road! But as you already pointed out, you are not on the journey alone!! We are praying for you as well.


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