Don’t Live In Dread: instructions with some assembly required

some assembly require

“The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,

‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.

He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe…’ “

Isaiah 8:11-14

 

I love this reminder that I have been given a directive in the way I deal with fear.

Fear has always felt non-optional to me. Like an emotion that rises out of nowhere and I didn’t exactly get to stand at a control board and calmly pick out which reaction I would like to have in this moment. Simply telling me “do not fear” doesn’t seem all that helpful.

INSIDE OUT

Maybe it felt that way to the disciples in their storm-tossed boat, at three in the morning, in the thunder, wet with waves, when lightning lit Jesus’ face and He said “Don’t be afraid.”

Excuse me?? Don’t be afraid?? Do you not see my situation? How exactly am I supposed to go about that? Do you want me to just shut down and stop feeling? 

Those would have been my thoughts.

boat storm

But He didn’t ONLY say “Don’t be afraid.” It wasn’t a simple platitude handed without feeling into a situation he didn’t know or understand. It wasn’t a “You’re being ridiculous, there isn’t anything to be afraid of here, so just calm down.”

It was a command followed by these words:

“Take courage. I am here.”

You are facing something that demands courage, because IT IS frightening. But I am here now, so you can have that courage, and it is not empty. It need not be an act.

The one who controls the sea and wind and all the earth is at your side, so though the situation is frightening, DO NOT FEAR.

Perhaps that is more what it means when it says in Isaiah that I am not to live in dread. Not that I cannot acknowledge frightening situations, but that I must not stay, huddled and panicking, in all my fearful thoughts.

I must take courage, because I have the same promise that was extended to weary disciples at three in the morning when they thought they were going under. 

Living in dread is a normal reaction to some of the situations we are asked to face. Who doesn’t know how it feels to have the weight of a problem you can’t solve or a verdict you must wait for hanging over their head? I think I have spent a LOT of time living in dread.

God says dread is normal, but He’s asking us to think abnormally. To factor in something the rest of the world does not.

dreading

More and more I am learning that the word of God was intended to be practical and accessible in my life.

So when God says things like “Do not fear.” He means that it’s possible for me here and now. I think that just considering that He meant this for me, too, that somewhere ahead is a point in my growth where I have learned to do this, is a baby step in and of itself.

hope 2

I am starting to understand that God does not mock my pain. He does not dismiss my fear. He steps into it and says, “Take courage. I am here.”

Perhaps “Do not live in dread” is an instruction with some assembly required. And the steps I must take to build that result are this:

1. Look at Him

2. Look at Him

3. Look at Him

See Him, for He is here with me. Make Him holy in my life. Let Him fill my view instead of whatever it is that I find so frightening, and I will find that it is not a challenge for Him.

Jer 32 27

He will keep me safe.

He will help and protect me.

So may I learn, in the daily assault of anxious thoughts and heavy burdens, to step back and make Him holy in my life. To sit down and let Him stand in my life. To gaze upon Him and let Him fill me with awe. To be very selective in what I allow to make me tremble.

For there is only One who is worthy of attention like that.

May I learn to be more and more faithful to seek out time with his words; to tell of my needs and come away resting, for they are known and seen and handled by a capable God.

I am not capable.

I am pregnant. I am sick. I am weak. I cannot work. I cannot stand up for more than one worship song in church.

IV arms

But He takes small, weak people all the time and shelters them and draws them out and teaches them to fiercely love His name. He uses what the world discards to build a kingdom that cannot be shaken. He makes gold the asphalt that paves His streets and invites broken people to walk upon it as royalty. 

He brings down the high and mighty and elevates the lowly, and He whispers into my pitiful, seated worship that this does not depend on me.

Do not worry.

Do not fear.

Reassurances that weave the rhythm of a life that hides in the quiet place of His strength; that forfeits its attempt to be enough on its own.

Do not worry. Do not fear.

Be still. Stand still.

Know Me and see

what I will do

with a life that looks to Me

like you.

sitting in church

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty…

His faithful promises are your armor and protection…

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in the darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday…If you make the Lord your refuge, no evil will conquer you…

…The Lord says:

I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.”

Psalm 91, excerpts

 

Lord-

I face some challenges today that are too much for me. I do not know how to go about them. I do not know how to stay encouraged, how to rest, how not to fear in the midst of them. I am troubled, sick and out of negotiating power. But I am never at the mercy of powerful people or events beyond my control. I am at your mercy. And you give it freely at the foot of the cross.

May I linger and drink it in until my soul quiets before you and my fear lets go and you are once again bigger in my heart than my problems are. 

at the foot of the cross

Help me not to live in dread, for you have freed me from that at a high price,

that I might instead live in awe.

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