Summary: Part 7 in series Freedom From..., this message addresses fear and how God has promised to deal with fear in our lives.
Freedom From Fear, prt. 1
Freedom From... prt. 7
Wildwind Community Church
October 18, 2009
If you’ve attended Wildwind for more than a few months, you know this is not the first time I have spoken to you about fear. I have been up front about my lifelong struggle with fear, worry, and anxiety. I shared with you in detail because I want to do everything I can at Wildwind to create an environment here where we understand that frailty, struggle, flaws, and weakness are the things that bind us together – we are all human beings and we all share the human condition. Did you hear me? Don’t just let that slip by. Please realize this applies to you, with whatever shortcomings and afflictions you have. Please do not excuse yourself from this. Please do not think, “Yeah, you say that, but you don’t know what I struggle with.” Please don’t make that mistake. Please do not set yourself apart from the rest of not only our faith community here at Wildwind, but from the human community, as if you have some affliction, some issue, some spiritual condition which renders you beyond the reach of God’s love, and beyond the reach of other struggling people who want to extend hands and hearts to you. Listen, please hear me. No matter your issue, God loves you. No matter your struggle, in fact, BECAUSE of your struggle, you are one of us. Yes you are flawed. Yes you are scarred and wounded. Yes you are damaged goods. Yes, without question, you are part of the community of the fallen. And yes, without question, because of that, you are part of the community of those who are being redeemed, the ones for whom Jesus died, to show us how far love goes, that no one stands so far from the cross that we are out of its shadow, that no one – NO ONE need be lost for a lifetime. Paul prayed for the Ephesians:
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Knowing the love of the Father – this infinite love that cannot be known and yet which Paul prays we will know anyway – this is what our whole relationship with God rests upon. You will have to come to know this love if you are ever to feel that you are included in the community of those who are being redeemed, and as you come to increasingly know that love, fear will drop off of you like clothing that no longer fits. And until you come to know that love, you can pray, you can read scripture, you can come to church, but you will still walk around with these places in you that are so deeply and desperately broken that you wonder if even God can put those pieces back together again.
Last time I spoke to you about fear, I spoke to you as one who had been humbled by years of struggle with it, who had largely not found success in breaking its chains. Today I stand here a free man. This does not mean I never experience anxiety or fear at all anymore, but it means that it no longer defines my life. I no longer live in the nightmare of anxiety and panic. I have found, and am continuing to find, freedom from fear. You can too. I’m the poster boy both for a life of fear and of the journey into freedom from it. I know I speak to some fearful people today. Some people who, like me, have fought this battle until they are weary, and perhaps are even in despair that they will ever be free. Fear engenders that despair, as it enslaves the mind, plunges us into vivid nightmares, and we live those nightmares as if they are reality. Fear weighs us down in the daylight, and haunts our sleep in the night. It steals the joy from life’s finest moments, and replaces it with sorrow and sadness and mourning for what we imagine we are surely to lose, or to suffer, in days to come. Fear does not wait for a reason to approach and attack. It finds, designs, and manufactures its own reasons. It keeps us from taking the risks that are required in order to grab a hold of opportunities in this life. Fear is ruthless. When you are in its grip it rules over you and you are a marionette, powerless to escape it or its dreadful effects. You pray over and over again for relief that does not come, so you doubt your faith, you doubt that God listens and hears, and you feel cut off from God and his goodness, which of course generates more fear.