Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fear of the unknown...

“I am afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?”

Long pause…

“I am afraid of the future.”

“What do you mean, can you explain?”

“I am afraid of making the wrong choice, going the wrong way, of not knowing what to expect, so when I do make a choice, and it is wrong, then I am not good enough. I don’t meet expectations, of myself or of others or of God. I am afraid of failure; because I don’t know what is coming, I can’t anticipate it, or plan for it. I am afraid of what is coming up this week. Will I be able to handle being home now? Will I be able to handle the kids? Will I be able to do anything that is asked of me over the weekend? What are our plans for the week and weekend? How can I prepare if I don’t know? I guess I am crippled by the need to know.”

“To sum it all up, would you say you are afraid of the unknown?”


Thus went part of my counseling session last week with Tricia, as best as I can remember it.
After that, we focused in on my fear of the unknown, and worked through the fear, to see what God had to say to me about it. As we talked, because I am very visual, I got a few images in my head.

One image:
Walking into the darkness stumbling and scared… then realizing something was ahead of me… I was following something… something moving ahead of me… creating a path for me… realizing it was a pillar of fire.

As I talked with Tricia about it, we both made the obvious connection to God leading the Israelites out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Can you imagine how much that pillar of fire, God’s reminder of His presence with them, lit up the night sky, and showed them the way through the darkness of the wilderness?

If God was that pillar of fire, leading them… how much more is He leading me into the unknown, giving me light enough to see one step at a time in front of me? How much more is my Savior and God giving me just enough knowledge for the very moment I am in?

Another image:
Tucked under the covering feathers of God, sheltered under His wing… realizing again how dark it is under there… then it shifted to kneeling at the foot of the cross… covered not by the feathers of God, but the blood of Christ… flowing down over me, and washing me…

Again, Tricia and I talked about that. Not only is God leading me through the unknown and lighting my way, He has covered me with His blood. Any fear of not being good enough, making a mistake, a wrong choice, not being perfect… all the condemning thoughts that come with that… washed away.

I am following God into the wilderness of the unknown. He is blazing the trail before me. He is bringing others alongside me to cheer me on and encourage me. He has made a path for me. He makes me lie down in green pastures at times to rest, and leads be beside the still waters. He restores my soul. But then we move on, back down that path into the wilderness, one step at a time.

That path.

I follow in that path; the path of righteousness He leads me in, for His names sake; making choices along the way, zigzagging back and forth, but hopefully not straying off the path. Those choices are mine, that I am free to make. And if I step into a pot hole in the path He was trying to lead me around, I have to deal with the consequences for a time. But He heals me, His rod and staff, they comfort me.

Along that path at times there have been points, and will be again I suspect, where I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Though I have felt alone; though I have felt abandoned; I need not fear any evil, for He is with me.

My focus has to be, not on the valley, not on the darkness of the wilderness, but one defining hope. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Our pastor talked about that this past Sunday. All of creation is groaning. We are groaning, aching for the day when things will be put right. Our hope to keep going through the valley (the groan) is the hope set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, our Hope, our Savior. We will be with Him in glory, in heaven, forever.

We may be in the muck and mire now, but He leads us out of that. And as one of my friends says, with every little victory we have in overcoming the enemy, setting aside something that hinders us, tearing down a stronghold, persevering through pain, and coming out on the other side… There will be dancing in the streets! Rejoicing, surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on, and dancing with us!

Yes, there is fear of the unknown still lurking in my heart, but hope is there as well. It WILL overcome the darkness. I WILL come out on the other side.

AND SO WILL YOU! Don’t be discouraged! Don’t give in! Don’t give up! You can do it! I can do it! We can do it together, walking arm in arm, and dancing in the streets together with every victory, be it big or small!

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