Summary: Examines how a God-oriented perspective is the only solution to fear and anxiety.
Life’s Too Short To…Fear The Future
Life’s Too Short To…, prt. 6
Wildwind Community Church
Do you struggle with fear? Do you worry a lot? Do you have certain issues in life that are so frightening to you that you just have to try not think about them? Can it be so hard to not think about them sometimes that it drains your mental and emotional energy trying to avoid thinking about them? Are you a “what-iffer?” Are you always thinking about everything that might go wrong if you do this or do that? When things are good in your life, do you find yourself feeling like it must just be the calm before the storm – that things can’t really go well for you for any length of time – that very soon it’ll all come crashing down around you? When someone says they need to talk to you or they have news for you, do you assume something is wrong? Do you find that it’s hard to watch the news sometimes because it just seems to give you more to worry about? Do you run mental disaster movies in your mind all the time, playing out different bad things that could happen, and trying to figure out what you might do in each event so that you’ll be prepared to respond?
There was a time in my life not too long ago that I would have answered all of these questions with a resounding YES. My life was controlled by fear, by worry, by anxiety. There were times I spent every waking moment either worrying about something, or kind of generating mental lists of all the fearful things in this world – death, floods, fires, terrorism, earthquakes, killer bees, diseases, wars, tornadoes, terrible mental illnesses like schizophrenia, awful things happening to my children, financial devastation, the end of the world, violent crime – I have devoted countless hours in my life to worrying about each of those things. Let’s face it, the world gives us plenty to worry about. And that’s just this particular world. I can’t even count the number of hours I used to spend worrying about things like sin, going to hell, other people I loved going to hell – the hell thing was a big one for me.
Now by this time you already know whether today’s message is for you or not. You are either sitting in your seat right now thinking, Man, that is totally me, or you’re thinking, “You mean people actually live their lives like that?” Yes, people – many people – actually live their lives like that. If you don’t happen to struggle with worry and anxiety and you’re thinking, “Man, that’s no way to live life,” do you know what? You could not be more right. All of us who have struggled with fear and worry can attest that it’s no way to live life. In fact, life is way to short to live with fear.
Fear is ironic, because to live in fear is to live in a state of concern over things that have potential to make life miserable – like the things I listed earlier. And the irony is that there are few things more miserable than living in that state of concern – feeling anxious and uptight and tense and worried and afraid all the time. And fear of the future is especially terrible because as we sit fearing the future, we transport ourselves mentally into this terrible, scary place as we sit in the relative safety of our living rooms, or lie in our cozy beds and warm houses. Sometimes we fear losing a loved one, and we dwell on that fear until it creates in us a grief very similar to what we might feel had we actually lost them, yet we experience this fear sometimes even as we lie right next to that loved one, blessed by his or her presence, yet blind to the present blessing as we lie there fearing and making ourselves feel the future pain that might, or might not, be coming.
It reminds me of the true story of a 37 year-old man in the Soviet Union who astonished friends and neighbors one day. He had been thought dead for eighteen years, when one day he emerged from under a pile of goat poop shrieking, “I want to work! I want to live!”
His neighbors were astonished by this because they all believed him to have been killed in World War II 18 years earlier. The story, as it turns out, is that on the night he was marching off the war, he deserted, and sneaked home to the hiding place that his parents made for him under the manure pile at the back of the family goat shed. His mother had told him, “Don’t mind the goats and the poop – at least you’ll survive.”