Knots are excellent tools. Until they get in the way of you moving towards your goal.
It's exciting to watch a kid as they learn how to tie their shoes for the first time. And you always want to teach the double knot quickly.
But too often, we don't teach kids how to untie their shoes. Pull the wrong lace and before you know it you have an incredibly tight knot. Sore fingers and frustration are sure to follow.
Our fear of the Lord is healthy. It's like the knot that keeps our shoes on tight. But too often, other fears creep in and become like the knot that is hard to untie.
While many of us may try to downplay or even deny that our fears have us tied up in knots, take some time to consider these 3 ways that fear reveals itself in our lives.
Your plan to beat your fears is to control whatever you can. Everything you can find a way to control, you do, people included. You have the schedule locked in and it's not subject to change. You control who sees you and who you see. And you only say yes when people agree to certain terms before meeting. If you can't calculate how a situation or a task is going to end, it's a no.
When your fear is expressed through control, it can be really freeing to identify the things you don't actually have control of in the first place. As you identify those things, you might repeat Psalm 115:3 out loud or in your mind: "Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases."
But what if it's not about control for you? What if your fears just cause you to get angry about things that you already know are out of your control? Fear expressed through anger thinks things like, "Everything that has happened in 2020 is clearly someone’s fault." At the first opportunity to point the finger or chastise someone else, you do it. Unfortunately, sometimes that person is our spouse or child. Other times, anger is directed towards the innocent bystander in the check-out line, or sometimes, the faceless person on social media. If anger is not being directed at someone, its bubbling just below the surface eating you alive and consuming your thoughts.
Though it can be hard to avoid anger entirely (though possible with the help of the Holy Spirit!), we can at least heed the wisdom found in Ephesians 4:26: "Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger."
Especially in light of quarantines and isolation, many of us are noticing our fear being revealed through withdrawal. This person assumes the easiest thing to do is pack it in, unplug, disengage from the world, and do your own thing. Wake me up when it’s over or when things get back to normal is their battle cry.
Before long, the loneliness and depression of isolation sets in and a me against the world victim mentality consumes the thought life of the person withdrawing because of fear.
The encouragement from Hebrews 10:24-25 is timely for those in this camp: "And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching."
When you feel yourself alone or withdrawing, remember that you're called to provoke others to love one another just as they are you! Let's all take responsibility for actively loving one another.
Untying the Knot
Something sneaky happens when we proactively work against the side effects of our fears. Our fears themselves diminish. As we see the Lord faithfully working in our lives to reduce the effects, we realize even more how he is their to untie the knots of fear in our lives.
So don't be afraid. Don't be crippled by your fears. When control, anger, and withdrawal start showing themselves in your life, work against them taking root and be reminded that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgement." (2 Timothy 1:7)