Summary: A sermon about faith prevailing over fear.

Philippians 4:4-8

“Antidote for Anxiety”

By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN

Currently I am reading a fantastic novel entitled “The Shack.”

It’s a Christian book which is currently on the New York Times Best-Seller list.

The main Character in the Book, Mack, is in the midst of a great tragedy in his life; a Great Sadness when he receives a note inviting him to spend a weekend with God.

And I mean literally with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

It’s an awesome tale.

Reminds me a lot of some of C.S. Lewis’ works.

Anyhow, at one point in the book, Jesus and Mack are about to take a short-cut by walking across the water of a lake.

Mack isn’t so sure about this idea.

Would you be?

Anyhow, Jesus asks Mack: “Tell me what you are afraid of…”

“Well, let me see. What am I afraid of?” began Mack.

“Well, I am afraid of looking like an idiot.”

“I am afraid that you are making fun of me and that I will sink like a rock. I imagine that--”

“Exactly,” Jesus interrupted.

“You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like us. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel task-master. If I may prove my case, do you think humans were designed to live in the present or the past or the future?”

“Well,” said Mack, hesitating, “I think the most obvious answer is that we were designed to live in the present. Is that wrong?”

Jesus chuckled. “Relax, Mack; this is not a test, it’s a conversation. You are exactly correct, by the way. But now tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination, in the present, in the past, or in the future?”

Mack thought for a moment before answering.

“I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. For me, I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.”

Jesus replied:

“Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the present—I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure, I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Mack, do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?”

“Again Mack stopped and thought. It was true. He spent a lot of time fretting and worrying about the future, and in his imaginations it was usually pretty gloomy and depressing, if not outright horrible.”

“And Jesus was also correct in saying that in Mack’s imaginations of the future, God was always absent.”

“Why do I do that?” asked Mack.

“It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear…”

“So, why do I have so much fear in my life?” Mack asked.

“Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that we love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it.”

“Mack looked down once more at the water and breathed a huge sigh of the soul.”

“I have so far to go.”

And don’t we all?

In our Scripture Lesson for this morning, the Apostle Paul writes: “Don’t be anxious about anything…”

How many of us can attest that we are never anxious about anything?

I want to see a raise of hands.

Folks, the stock market is plummeting, the financial situation in this country and around the world is teetering on the brink of disaster.

Home foreclosures are skyrocketing.

We are in a credit crunch…

…and we have the 24 hour news cycle to remind us about this at every turn…

Is anybody anxious about this stuff?

Does it cause some fear to well up?

But Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything…”

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Den Rebennack

commented on Jun 22, 2009

How timely this sermon is! With the nation in chaos and the message that the Shack gives, it couldn''t be a better time to address anxiety and how to Biblically difuse it.

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