Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When Life Gives You the Creeps

Have you ever gotten home late at night, and while walking from your car to your front door, you get a little spooked?  You know what I mean?  As you're standing on the porch, you hear the leaves rustle behind you.  You feel the cold chill creeping up your spine as you struggle to get your key in the door.  For maybe just a millisecond, you are filled with dread… until the door opens and you walk safely into your home.  And promptly lock the door behind you.  Anybody?  No?  Just me?

It’s that time of year again.  You can’t walk into a store without seeing cob webs and scary masks everywhere.  Haunted houses pop up all over town.  Every movie advertised is terrifying, even the sweetest Disney shows get a creepy twist for Halloween.  And over the years, this season has taught me something about myself.  I’m a total scaredy cat.  I am.  I can’t handle creepy crawlies or things that go bump in the night.  I’m not one for thrills and chills.  I don’t like goose bumps or heart pumping spooks.  None of that is fun for me.  I’m a chicken.

Our Not-Spooky Costumes - But alas, Micah will be trick-or-treating as Chucky!

On the rare occasion that I ever watch a scary movie, I do it facing in the complete opposite direction and make Jay tell me what’s happening.  I don’t need more in life to be afraid of, because even without horror films, there is plenty in life to make you scared.  

Earlier in the week, I put a question out on social media – what are you afraid of?  And people flooded the comment section with all sorts of different things – sharks, snakes, heights, stage fright, darkness, mice, water, clowns, flying, giant cockroaches (just to be clear – flying and giant cockroaches are two separate things.  Flying giant cockroaches would be a whole other kind of terrifying!)

If I asked you to make a list right now, how many things would you be afraid of?  5?  10?  20?  

Well, I made a list.


89 things that scare me.  That scare might range from the heebie jeebies to downright paralyzing terror.

I believe some fear is ok.  The fear that leads to common sense.  Like I got a speeding ticket two years ago this week.  My first and hopefully last, because the fear of getting another makes me not speed.  Or at least not speed in front of a police officer!  The fear of something happening to our homes might cause us to get insurance.  A fear of water might encourage us to wear life jackets.  I’m constantly afraid of oversleeping, so I set a pretty ridiculous amount of alarms. Some of the fears on my list are that kind of fear, the kind that leads to common sense.

But then there are things on my list, things that I’m afraid of, that can be debilitating.  Maybe some of these things are on your list –

being alone

something bad happening to the people I love

being judged

not being liked

not having what I need

not being a good enough mother

not being a good enough wife

not being a good enough officer

disappointing everyone

What if my kids don’t come to love Jesus?   What if I get sick and have to leave my family too soon?  What if I never do anything that matters?

These are the fears that keep us up at night.  These fears are not silly or spooky.  They are not a movie we can turn off.  They are not a make-believe boogy man hiding under the bed.  They are real.  These dangers are real.  So how can we help but be afraid?

Mark 4:35-41 says, “35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Why are you afraid?  I have to tell you that this story is pretty scary to me since numbers 19 through 24 on my list have to do with being out on the water and numbers 80 and 81 have to do with storms.  I can’t imagine putting all those things together!  And this storm had to be sudden and fierce if even those disciples who were experienced fishermen were terrified.  High waves breaking in, the boat filling with water.  Sudden and scary.  

A spouse who decides they’d rather be with someone else… a call from a doctor that changes your whole world… the loss of a pregnancy…a heart attack… a car accident… a child who does something to break your heart…  unexpected layoffs at your job.  Real storms.  Sudden and scary.  

It seems a little cold to us that Jesus would be sleeping like a baby in the hour of his disciples’ greatest need, but Jesus had no cause to fear.  He knew who He was.  His disciples may have forgotten in the midst of the storm.  I know that in the storms of my life, I need a reminder that even the wind and waves obey Him.  That doesn’t mean that He is going to calm every crazy, unexpected, danger that creeps up in my life, but it does mean that He is not surprised by what seems sudden to me.  He is never thrown or caught off-guard.  He knows.  He is ready and prepared.  He sees what I can’t see, and He loves me.  Jesus isn’t saying to His disciples, “Why are you afraid of this measly storm?” He knows the storm is scary and dangerous.  He isn’t making light of what they’re going through.  He is simply saying, “Why are you afraid when you know I’m in the boat with you?”

Fear sucks away our energy.  It is a monster that paralyzes us.  Fear tells us that there is no joy or hope in our situation.  Fear tells us that we have no purpose, and that our terrible circumstances define who we are.  Fear tells us that we are alone.

Fear is a liar. 

We are told in God’s word in 2 Timothy 1:17, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”

Fear is not from God, it is a tool of the enemy.  Satan knows how to use our fears against us in order to weaken our faith.  When you remind yourself that Jesus is in the boat, he draws your attention to the waves.  He finds you in a vulnerable moment, maybe late at night, when you’re exhausted and exposed, and he whispers in your ear, planting those seeds of fear that grow into full-blown terror.  It’s the foothold he needs to crumble our belief. 

Why do I fear not being good enough?  Because in the wee hours, when I am weak and weary, the enemy tries to convince me that my shortcomings are many, and I might as well give up now.  Why do I fear not doing anything that matters – because when something doesn’t go as planned or someone isn’t responding the way I’d hoped, Satan suggests to me that it’s not the message they’re rejecting, it’s the messenger. 

He digs deep.  He takes fears I thought I’d put to bed years ago and brings them front and center, putting them right in my face again.

This is why we are told in 1 Peter to be alert because our adversary the devil roams around like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour.

I read recently that the command of God, “Do not be afraid,” is in the Bible 365 times.  One for every day of the year.  A daily reminder that God’s grace and love are sufficient.  A reminder that our security is not found in any of the temporary trappings in this life, but in the eternal, matchless name of Jesus who stands beside us always.

Romans 8 tells us this:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate me from His love.  No thing.  Not one of the 89 things on my list.  That is why I shouldn’t fear.  I’m safe in His love. 

I don’t know what’s keeping you up at night these days, but whatever it is, I’ll bet you’re tired.  Tired of struggling with this fear and worry.  Really needing to just trust in the loving arms of Jesus to hold you while you rest. Give the song below a listen and remember that in whatever you're facing, you're not alone.

"I'm Not Alone" 

Now, just for kicks... here’s my list.  Promise to never use it against me!
1.      Heights
2.      Spiders
3.      Snakes
4.      Lizards
5.      Opossums
6.      Skunks
7.      Some dogs
8.      Cats
9.      Large birds
10.  Bees
11.  Wasps
12.  Mice
13.  Rats
14.  Small animals
15.  Bugs
16.  Feeling dirty
17.  Closed-in spaces
18.  Suffocating
19.  Drowning
20.  Deep water
21.  Dark water
22.  Fish
23.  Sharks
24.  Anything that touches me in water
25.  Plane crashes
26.  Unfamiliar food
27.  Car crashes
28.  Falling and knocking my teeth out
29.  Eyeballs
30.  Being embarrassed
31.  Public bathrooms
32.  Worms
33.  Germs
34.  Getting food poisoning
35.  When it’s really, really dark
36.  Not being liked
37.  Movies about demons
38.  Disappointing everyone
39.  Something bad happening to Jay
40.  Something bad happening to Micah
41.  Something bad happening to Asher
42.  Not being a good mom
43.  Not being a good wife
44.  Not being a good officer
45.  Ebola
46.  Being alone
47.  Not having what I need
48.  Oversleeping
49.  Having another baby
50.  NOT having another baby
51.  Cancer
52.  Being judged by others
53.  Not having friends around
54.  Not getting my work done
55.  Memory loss/dementia
56.  Feeling stupid
57.  Strangers
58.  Walking from my car to the door late at night
59.  Getting lost
60.  Traffic
61.  Chaos
62.  My house being a mess
63.  Not accomplishing anything that matters
64.  Being out of control
65.  Leaving my family too soon
66.  Loved ones not knowing Jesus
67.  Hurting someone
68.  Micah walking home from the bus stop
69.  Alligators
70.  Losing my hair
71.  My jaw locking up permanently
72.  The dentist
73.  Criticism
74.  Making the wrong choices
75.  Choking
76.  Cigarette smoke
77.  Bad memories/dreams
78.  Zelda from Pet Cemetery
79.  Bats
80.  Tornados
81.  Thunderstorms
82.  Forgetting something important
83.  People shorter than me
84.  Getting a mental illness
85.  Bedbugs
86.  Ticks
87.  Slime
88.  Frogs
89.  rollercoasters