Are you a fearful person? Do you live your life in a constant state of worry and stress? Are you forever existing in a guarded mindset, posturing yourself to flee from the things that could harm you? Do you examine everything from the standpoint of your fear? Does your anxiety exert more pressure on your actions and decisions than your faith in God?
Many people live their lives in just this fashion. Skittish. Fearful. Worried. Anxious. The weight of life and the many problems it holds has completely subdued them. Consequently, they cling tightly to a mentality of personalized fear and stress that literally chokes the happiness, joy, and productivity right out of their life. They are always running scared and afraid to act.
There are certainly things in life that bring about reasonable fear. In October, my father experienced a complete heart failure. It scared me; it scared him; it scared my entire family. That situation brought about in me a capacity to fear that I wasn’t even aware I possessed, and along with those fears came stress, worry, anxiety, and the depressing emotions that tend to run complimentary to such feelings. My dad is alive and well, and he’s doing great, but, for a few months, I lived in varying degrees of fearfulness and anxiety regarding his situation. My sight had shifted from the strength of my position in God, through Christ, and it was focused more on the weakness of my own inability in a seemingly desperate situation. Shame on me.
Let me get straight to the point. Fear is exceptionally easy to come by for most of us. We’re easily startled, easily stressed, and our minds so easily tend to envision vivid depictions of “the worst.” If something is already bad, we seem to be able to supernaturally transform it into something of epic negativity in our own minds…something that may bring about an end to human happiness as we know it. We become overwhelmed; our faith shuts down, and we lie helpless at the altar of circumstance. Where is our recognition of God in this situation?
For many in our country, there’s a permanently embedded fear of the political system. Do you fear Donald Trump? Do you fear his policies? Do you fear what he may or may not do with the power and prestige of the presidency or our nation? Consequently, many in our nation feared Hillary Clinton and the continuation of current policies. It’s certainly easy to fear the I.R.S. Do we fear I.S.I.S.? Do we fear sickness or death? The gamut of our fears is long; it’s deep; it’s wide, and it’s incredibly diverse. It’s also very personalized. One person may desperately fear something that brings great enjoyment to another person. It’s all a matter of the internal examination of what we can and cannot tolerate, depending upon our own comfort zone. For most, that comfort zone is tiny.
But what does God say regarding fear?
The Bible is full of instruction where this topic is concerned. Some of my favorite verses dealing with fear are below:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” – Isaiah 43:1
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
– Psalm 23:4
These are just a few; there’s many more, but let’s look briefly at a great verse that I love to reference when my own fears begin to emerge. It's beautiful, and the promises it holds are deep...
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Shaddai). I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” … He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you… For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways… “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” – Psalm 91:1-2,4-7,11,14-15 (NIV)
I love this passage because of the eloquence of the promises made within and the foundation it lays out for living a fearless life. In this particular blog post, we’re just going to look at verse 1. I’ll go through this complete passage in upcoming posts, but, today, let’s just look at verse 1…
In verse one, the preface is made for protection and fearless living, and notice that it is set aside for those who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High.” This promise of protection isn’t made to those who reject Christ, but only to those who dwell in Him. Ultimately, we should acknowledge that it’s not really made to the Christian who is living apart from an intimate relationship with God. Close relationship is much more important than most people tend to make it. The closeness of our relationship with God triggers the actions and the promises of God for those who love and pursue Him. With that knowledge, I absolutely love the way this passage is worded…“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” What an incredible passage of Scripture!
The word “dwell” in this verse is, ‘yashab,’ meaning ‘to inhabit.’ When we make Christ the Lord of our life, and then purposefully move into a deeper relationship with Him (dwelling in the shelter), we have then chosen Him as our "home"…abiding (or literally living) in His presence. He is where we live, where we return, where we rest and recharge, and where we find our peace and safety. There’s power in intimacy and deep relationship with the Almighty. It’s a place where fear dies. It’s a place of spiritual, emotional, and physical rest that cannot be reproduced by temporal devices. The power of the inhabiting presence of God through deep, purposed, and meaningful relationship with Him is undeniable.
Is God our dwelling place? Is it from Him that we derive our call, our security, and our world view? Do we return to Him daily, in the shadow of His presence and protection, to recharge from the difficulties and fears of life?
Having made God our dwelling place, we have a great promise of “rest” in the shadow of Almighty God. This verse gives me chills. This "rest" is, ‘batach,’ and it means ‘trust’ or ‘security.’ We could rewrite this verse by saying, ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find security in the shadow of the Almighty.’
In a world where there’s no deficit of the things that bring about great fear, we need not be afraid. If we’re dwelling and abiding with God, He is our shelter, our trust, and our secure resting place. It is by Him that our lives our authored, and it is in Him, and only in Him, where true rest, protection, and security can be found.
That’s enough for today, but think on that. Our life, abiding in God through Christ Jesus, is under the protective shadow of Almighty God. Fear is a wasted thought under the shadow of God. As we walk through life, let’s be sure to understand Satan’s ploy of injecting fear into our circumstances. Fear is debilitating; God is rejuvenating. Let go of fear; it has no place in the life of a child of God. Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space. Choose one, and make your choice based off of your position under the shadow of the protection of a God so great.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!