For a while now I have been using Ann Spangler’s book Praying the Names of God in my daily Quiet Time with the Lord. God has chosen to speak to me on a continuing basis through her writing. A month or so back one particular lesson really grabbed my attention and convicted me. In fact it’s too good to keep from you. So here is what she has to offer.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
“According to scientists, sheep have gotten a bad reputation for being, shall we say, less than brilliant. In fact, it appears that sheep are fairly intelligent creatures. They only seem stupid because they are afraid of just about everything. But what’s so scary about being a sheep? For one thing sheep taste good, especially to wolves and other wild animals who love to prey on them because they are defenseless. To make matters worse, sheep are fairly good at getting lost, and when they get wet in a river or pond, their wool can get so soaked and heavy that they easily drown. Close to shearing time sheep can become so top heavy that they may fall over and not be able to get up, making them easy targets for predator birds. Sheep it seems, are a tragedy waiting to happen. It’s little wonder that their sense of vulnerability sometimes leads to panic and wooly- brained behavior.
“Though we rarely like to admit it, we too are subject to fears that sometimes cause us to behave stupidly. Afraid of failing in business, we’re tempted to cut corners. Frightened by loneliness, we fall prey to relationships that harm us emotionally and spiritually. Fearful that we’re going to miss out, we spend money foolishly. Worried that something terrible will happen to our children, we try vainly to control their lives. Fear can become so powerful that it pushes us off the path of righteousness, making us more vulnerable to various kinds of evil. Oddly, some of us are even afraid to admit how fearful we are. Yet fear shapes our behavior and choices in ways that lead not to greater security but to deepened anxiety.
“No wonder we need a Shepherd to keep us safe, to guide us along the right path, and to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. Today, ask the Lord to examine your heart, training a spotlight on your fears. As each one is revealed, ask Him to help you conquer it through faith. Pray that God will replace your fear with a sense of security so strong that you can say with the psalmist, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd…I fear no evil.’”
OUCH! Fear has a way of paralyzing us. Today, as I write this I’m aware of several fears in my life: 1) Fear of failure – especially failing my Lord 2) Fear of stepping out of many of my comfort zones 3) Uneasiness and some fear about retirement in the years to come 4) Fear that my back will continue to get worse and I might need surgery in the future. That is just a sampling of the fears that play havoc with my mind and heart. It is so hard to give God everything when fear is gripping me and pushing me away from trusting Him. Yet the very One I turn from in my fears is the only One who can take those fears away.
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2
In God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:11
God will not take your fears away until you acknowledge them and ask for His help. It starts with us asking God to put His spotlight on our lives – revealing those areas where we are not trusting Him. Then we need to confess our lack of trust – our buckling under to fear – and begin to seek the Shepherd’s victory in those areas. Think about it. It’s pretty stupid of us to let fear paralyze us. It pretty wise to let God replace those fears with trust and to lead us to immeasurable effectiveness in His service.
Join me in making this a reality in our lives – “The Lord is my Shepherd…I fear no evil.”