14 March 2016
The other night, I picked up my children from AWANA. As we walked out of the church and down the sidewalk by the building, a little boy was frolicking on the sill of a window looking out at us with a grin. I smiled as we walked by. My daughter said it frightened her. The boy on the sill is a rambunctious boy who is usually "up to something." He raises his hands during service. He is loud. He climbs on the shoulders of the youth who sit on the front row in service. He livens up the Sunday school class, to say the least. I have seen him frolick on that very window sill before. His presence there did not frighten me as it had my daughter. I had seen him there before and I had anticipated he would be there again and that it would be no surprise that I would see him there again. I expected him to be there. I told my daughter that I wasn't frightened because I anticipated the boy in the sill. She asked about it. I asked her what anticipation means. And she said, "When you expect something to happen."
At times, my kids jump out at me trying to scare me, but they rarely do. They have asked me why they cannot scare me. I informed them that as I approach a corner or door ajar, I have anticipation. I expect that there is a strong possibility that a child may be lurking behind the corner or door to jump out at me. So, when they do, it is not shocking to me. This is not to say they have not gotten me. All of this to say that it seems that anticipation is a key to not succumbing to fear.
The word anticipate dates back centuries. According to Online Etymology Dictionary in its beginning,
the word meant "taking into possession beforehand," from ante "before" + capere "to take." It is also worth noting that the word "capable" is rooted in the word capere, which can mean "to grasp, lay hold, take, catch; undertake; take in, hold; be large enough for; comprehend" (source: Online Etymology Dictionary). So, at its root, anticipate can mean to be large enough beforehand. Keep that in mind when it comes to fear. In your experience, is God large enough beforehand to drive out the fears you have? I'm not talking about saying, "Boo!" or scaring someone in fun. I am talking about that loathing and dreaded anxiety that sometimes can plague the mind with the cares of this life.
If one doesn't think God is enough, then there will be fear.
Brian Charette once shared the following: "To entertain fear is to have faith that God won't show up. To succumb to fear is the firm belief is the firm belief that it's all up to you. To accept fear is to accept that God will be absent from your future" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUe_RQfuCJk&feature=youtu.be&t=22m11s). Fear comes from misplaced faith. It involves looking to ourselves and believing that God is not big enough or that He won't show up when in fact, He is more than big enough and He has already gone before you. Charette mentions that "fear is trusting that God isn't who He claims to be" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUe_RQfuCJk&feature=youtu.be&t=23m13s). Fear, then, results from not seeing that God is big enough beforehand. Fear is due to not anticipating God.
Where's fear come from? Charette mentions a couple things: sin and a vacuum. He says, "Sin will destroy faith and cultivate and fertilize fear. If you're ever in a situation where you don't feel that you're walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, where you're not sensing any love or giving any love, when you feel like your mind is anything but sound, look for sin first" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUe_RQfuCJk&feature=youtu.be&t=23m47s). Charette also says, "Nature abhors a vacuum" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUe_RQfuCJk&feature=youtu.be&t=23m47s). He notes that anything that is empty space, nature will try to fill it and this is true spirtually as well. My question for you: Are you filled with the Word and the Spirit or other things?
What drives out fear? Consider 1 John 4:18-19 (NIV):
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.
Love drives out fear. And also take note that we love because He first loved us. He worked beforehand. We can anticipate God because He has moved and He keeps His Word. There can be an anticipation of behavior - God's behavior. How do you anticipate God? Focus on Him. This deters sin, fills the vacuum of our soul and life with God and we can go to Him daily and be immersed in His Word the Bible. And the Bible tells us what He has done and will do. His promises are sure. Think of the cross. Jesus knew He would face the cross before He was crucified. Matthew 20:17-19 (NASB) shares this truth:
Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
Don't miss the end of the verse. Jesus also knew He would rise again. Jesus anticipated the Truth of God's plan. He was and is God. Do you know Him? If you do, you can anticipate the truth of His promises for you, how His life was a perfect sacrifice on your behalf rendering powerless your sin, how He offers hope in His rising again and how He seals you for salvation with the Holy Spirit giving you His righteousness. We who are in Christ know the endgame and we can anticipate with certainty. Life has thrown, in some cases is throwing, and will throw trials -- conflict, strife, grief, sickness and other struggles. If we look to ourselves, we see we are not big enough and not capable and fall into despair. However, if we look to Christ Jesus, we see that He is big enough and though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can fear not for He is with us (See Psalm 23:4). We may succumb to disease and die in our last breath, but He is bigger still and holds us in His hand and no one can snatch us from Him (See John 10:28). Even in trial and suffering, there is the other side of it. Even in the fog of despair, in Christ, there is the clearing on the other side. The worst case scenario is that our last breath here is followed by our first breath in His presence! Are you anticipating with hope? Do you know Jesus? If you do, are you anticipating what He has done, is doing and will do as He has already promised? If so, you can have no fear!
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