Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A summer of fear and anxiety

One of the books I read this summer was Ed Welch's book Running Scared.  It was one of the best books I have ever read. It's about so much more than fear and anxiety.

There will always be things that we fear. As we got older, the potential fears only grow. What is crucial, though, is to find out what motivates our fear, and Welch spends a lot of time discussing that. That is what I appreciated most about this book. It offered foundational help, not just band-aid solutions. Honestly there is so much I could share about this book, but this is a blog post, so I'll keep it brief. Here are some themes I appreciated.

The "manna principle." This is the reality that just as God provided daily for the Israelites in the wilderness, so does he provide for us daily. He will give us today those things we need today. Worry often spirals out of control when we start looking ahead to tomorrow before it's arrived. He won't give us tomorrow's portion until tomorrow. This helps us to learn trust, knowing that whatever tomorrow brings, God will provide.

Our fear reveals what we value most. When we have fears, we need to ask why. What are we ultimately trusting in? When we struggle with fear, our tendency is to find ways to stop fearing. Welch suggests that rather than running away from it, run toward it and figure out why we have those fears.

We are citizens in the kingdom of God. Being part of a kingdom means we have allegiance to our king. As Christians, we owe allegiance to our king, Christ. Too often, our allegiance is to a kingdom (usually the kingdom of "me") which is temporal. But God's kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and when we have proper allegiance, it changes everything. Fears reveal our ultimate allegiances, and sometimes, we're giving allegiance to the wrong kingdom.

We need to be in the Word and prayer. The ultimate solution to worry is knowing God and relating to Him. We will never get a grip on fear if we don't know God, and that means being in the Bible regularly. And it means meditating on the words, and seeking God through prayer.

There are many practical ways to help someone who struggles with fear. Things like deep breathing, exercise, prayer, and even engaging in creative pursuits can help when we are overwhelmed by fear. But the root of our fear needs to be identified. One of the things Welch said, which I found the most compelling was this simple principle:
Whatever is most important is the thing that rules us.
When God's kingdom is most important, it will rule us. If something else rules us, it will be revealed in our fears.

This book challenged me to think about where my ultimate allegiance is. Welch is skilled in both distilling truth and encouraging. He is honest about his own fears. It is a book I will recommend to others, and refer to again and again.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this book this summer as well (my review is at https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/book-review-running-scared-fear-worry-and-the-god-of-rest/). Since it was laid out in 30 segments, it was perfect to read in the month before a surgical procedure that I was anxious about and contributed greatly to calming my heart about that and other issues.

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