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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

While many think that doubt is the opposite of faith, I’m not so sure.  I have come to believe that fear may be a better antithesis of faith.  At the very least fear is a highly effective tool that keeps us from experiencing the peace, joy, and power-filled life that God intends for His people.  Paul writes to his young protégé, Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”  Where fear reigns, the people are not living in the spiritual empowerment God has given.  I have just walked through a bit of a fear testing and God has brought me through with a stronger faith and a renewed sense of His abiding presence.

You see, almost two years ago, I had a near brush with death that the Lord miraculously saved me from.  I will repost that after I finish this.  Ultimately I had three stents installed in my heart for significant blockages and a life with a modified diet, meds, and a great sense of thankfulness began.  The past year saw many more changes in my life – leaving regular employment to become an independent consultant, beginning to travel extensively, and admittedly, beginning to slack off on the rigorous heart-healthy diet I had followed for over a year.  For the record I didn’t abandon it entirely.  I just wasn’t nearly as anal about it.  For over a year I pretty much followed my wife’s advice – “if it tastes good, spit it out.”  Well flavor had been reintroduced into my life and, without touching the salt shaker, I had begun to enjoy eating again.

For the past month and a half I have been feeling guilty about enjoying food again.  And I put on about 7 pounds over the past 5 months.  So when I started feeling a little winded after walking up steps and a little ache in my chest, I immediately attributed it to a recurrence of heart issues.  The voice in my head immediately began telling me that “I was a goner”.  “God may have protected you once, but this time you have brought it on yourself with your awful eating habits.”  “You might as well give up, you’ve got heart disease and that’s just the way it is.”  There were plenty of other thoughts going on, but you get the drift.  Oh, there were also three or four conversations I was either in or overhead about someone having a heart attack or heart issues during these few days.  These just added more fuel to the fire of my fearful thoughts.

I mentioned this to Lisa on Tuesday evening and asked her to set up a doctor’s appointment for me and to pray for me.  I mentioned it to a few others the next couple of days asking for prayer, but I tried not to make too big a deal of it.  On Thursday afternoon the doctor’s office called me back to set up the appointment.  I had a choice – go to the ER, come in within a few days and see the nurse practitioner, or see the doctor in a little over a month.  It’s funny, even with all these fear-mongering thoughts clamoring for supremacy in my mind, I chose a faith response.  I said set me up for the doctor and we’ll do my annual check-up.  After I hung up the fear thoughts attacked in a rush, but at the moment she asked the question it was clear I needed to just see the doctor when he was available.

While I would like to tell you I was given a boost of faith that buoyed me, that was not the case this time.  (I have had that happen before, but not this time.)  Instead the thoughts kept coming.  Now I think I may have slipped into a helpful act of faith just by practicing an aspect of my regular devotion to the Lord.  This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent and the start of a focused season of preparation for Easter.  I typically fast on Ash Wednesday, but with the meetings I was involved in and travel, I postponed it.  After the call with the doctor’s office, I decided that if I was not going to rush in for an urgent check-up, then I was not going to put off the Fast for the start of Lent.  So Friday I undertook a simple 24-hour fast.  While many would say that isn’t much of a Fast, it was both an act of surrender and an act of faith for me to trust that the Lord would protect and carry me through.

Lisa and I went over to my parent’s where I wielded the chainsaw and used the bandsaw with my Dad to handle some chores he needed help with.  Now is when the faith boost occurred.  The entire time I was working – lifting big logs, running the saws, and performing several physically demanding tasks, my heart was fine.  In fact I felt surprisingly good for a Fast.  As I got ready for bed I felt a few more twinges in my chest, but I gave them to God and for the first time since this period began, I laid down simply trusting that God was going to take care of me.  The previous several nights I laid down wondering if I had missed the Lord’s guidance or if it was my time to go home.  For the first night in several I slept and did not wake up wondering if I was having symptoms of a heart attack.

The final piece came the next morning.  I rose early as is my routine and had a quiet time with my Dad.  I had not mentioned my struggle of the previous week or so, but I explained it then without too much fanfare.  He smiled as I talked and he held a look of confidence as I finished my story.  You see, I suspected Dad could relate.  He had a heart attack at age 53, the same age I was when they found my three blockages.  And he has lived with heart disease now for 25 years.  He shared some simple truths about heart disease that I hadn’t really considered.  His perspective was simple, straight-forward, and connected to a living faith that gave me a steady place to stand.

Even as I write this, I realize that writing with my laptop on my lap isn’t the best ergonomic way to blog… at least not if you don’t want an achy chest from having to scrunch your shoulders.  And all that plane travel and carrying a very heavy computer bag and a camera bag – well that’s a good way to create body aches too.

So, I’m achy, but I’m not fearful.  I am in need of a bit more regular exercise, but I’m not dying.  I should eat a little bit wiser, but flavor is not forever forbidden to me.  God has shown me once again that He cares for me and that I can trust Him.  I grasp all that in my head.  It is not knowledge that I lack so much as the settling of that knowledge into my heart where it becomes faith.  Because in the end, it is what is in our heart that really matters.

 

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