On Thursday night (10-6-22) at about 8 pm I felt dread and fear. A dark feeling had been growing in my heart for several days. Now, as I drove about 65 mph through a construction area on Rt. 17 in the mountains of Arizona, the dread was spreading.
The freeway had been restricted to one lane by the construction. On my right was a concrete barrier and on my left was a steel guardrail. Funny thing about fear, it changes the appearance of your surroundings. I’ve traveled this section of roadway many times over the last three years and hardly noticed the narrowness of this passageway. Tonight however, the freeway seemed to be closing in on me.
Several days earlier the memory of David Wilkerson’s tragic death in a car accident came drifting into my thoughts. It was one of those random mind droppings that appear out of nowhere and defies explanation. He was big in my life. His life story with Nicky Cruz in the “Cross and The Switchblade” helped define and direct the ministry that God developed in my life.
I have some longevity of life in my heredity. Gram lived to be almost 103 yrs. old. I’ve joked (partly serious) that I’m going to live to be 115 yrs. old! Suddenly, the thought of David’s death caused me to think about my own possible death.
I’ve known gangsters in Buffalo, NY who seemed to know they were about to be killed. They gave things away and made comments about thinking it was their time to die. The truth is, most of us don’t know the day or hour when we’ll die and meet the God who made us. Our thoughts and fears can influence our lives and the times of our deaths.
There’s a verse with deep meaning in the Bible. It’s written the Book of Job when he’s going through a horrible time. This is what it says, “For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid befalls me.” Job 3:25 AMPC. I’ve taught middle and high school students for years that the very thing you’re afraid of often happens because your fear attracts bad things. That’s what fear is all about.
It was at least a week since the heavy feeling of foreboding and dread had been hanging over me. It was growing. The Bible talks about “vain imaginations.” I take that to mean letting your mind wander into foolish reasoning and stupid speculations.
Romans 1:21 AMPC
”Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [a]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.”
My mind was wandering. I was feeling weak and the dread was growing. I felt trapped and I needed to escape. I needed to examine my heart, see where I’ve been and search out the origin of these creepy feelings.
After I safely arrived home on that Thursday might, I shook my head as I remembered my vain imaginations while driving. I felt like a wimp who had just fearfully and perilously passed through monsters of concrete and steel guardrails, I turned to God. He never calls me a wimp.
Before I left Flagstaff, I had dinner with our good friends Kai and Amber. I could try and explain to you who Kai is to me, but you’d be better off to go read about Jonathan and David in the Bible. Let’s just say Kai is in the “closer than a brother” category. We have deep life conversations and always pray during our times together.
Last Thursday I shared a hurtful memory with him and later with Amber at dinner. It was about a time when I was living my “sweet-spot.” I was having the time of my life living out the desires of my heart. A great deal of my time was spent teaching, mentoring, hiking and forming deep personal relationships. Then one day it came crashing to an end.
Still to this day I don’t understand why, but that’s okay. I’m still in contact with many of the guys in that program, even the ones who’ve left town. Losing a sweet-spot creates a wound of emptiness. A longing replaces the sweetness of knowing you were doing what you were born to do. I think I pretty much buried that wound. Burying is not healing.
The deep relationship I have with Kai created a safe place for an unburying. Some things need to be dug up and examined before they’re placed in the cauldron of wisdom. I call it a cauldron because it’s in the crucible of brokenness that the chaff of selfishness is burned away and replaced with Christ-likeness.
Personal accountability and transparency between brothers and sisters in Christ helps create fertile ground where the roots of fear are yanked and burned. Dread and fear will come and go, but when left unchecked (or unsurrendered to God,) it can be destructive or even fatal.
It’s possible and probably normal for most folks to blame dread and fear on the devil. I didn’t do that, I asked God what He wanted me to learn – after I changed the course of my thoughts and immersed myself in His Word. This morning I experienced joy and repentance. I’m looking at new sweet-spots that are parallel and will probably be much greater than my previous sweet-spots, I also had to repent for a number of things. I’ll leave those between me and God for now.
What would some steps be to defeat dread and fear?
- Surrender your fear to God.
- Examine your heart, attitude, mindset and motives.
- Respond by picking up the Sword of Truth – the Bible.
- Ask God to deliver you. It might be from an enemy or situation you created yourself.
- Ask someone to pray for you. (I always ask my wife!)
- Focus on Bible verses that speak of trusting in God over fear.
- Be confident that you haven’t lost an opportunity. Some things will never pass this way again, but I’ve found that by trusting God, He always gives me a greater dream.
Romans 5:3-5 AMPC
“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
4 And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
5 Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”
Thanks for your time. Go do something nice for somebody. Jesus loves you and so do we.
Tuesday, October 11, 2022, 12 pm