Fear. And what to do about it.

Some reactions to receiving  $500 from LaSalle Street Church. Some reactions to receiving $500 from LaSalle Street Church.

I am fearful that I won’t be able to contribute any ‘good’ ideas…I’m afraid of the responsibility of it… I am afraid of taking risks…I’m afraid that I won’t be able to choose the best outlet for the gift…

Fear. We’re not very far into the Biblical text before fear has Adam by the throat. The first divine question posed to humanity is “Where are you?” To which man responds, “I was afraid…”

Yep. I get fear. Maybe you do too.

Researchers say humans have a built-in disposition to listen to the most sensational of our fears. We will fear the sensational – though unlikely – instead of fearing the more likely, but more mundane scenario.

This explains the phenomena of being more frightened to get on a plane than to get behind the wheel of our cars. Teenagers take note. The odds are 11 million to 1 that you will die in a plane crash. 5,000 to 1 that you’ll die in a car accident. But try telling that to the vodka swigging travel companion next to you on the United flight, right?

It’s the reason we may fear someone breaking into our home and murdering us in our beds at night – when it’s far more likely that we will expire from our high fat diet. We inflate the sensational and downplay the more familiar.

Here’s the thing about fear – every fear has a story associated with it. We don’t just fear cancer. We fear the pain, the lingering illness, losing our hair, paralyzing fatigue, chemotherapy, death. We fear the story cancer brings with it.

To listen to one fear over the others is to believe one story more than the others. This is the great power of the fear story — we not only believe it, but we act on it too.  Jesus keeps telling us an alternative story.

  • In a world dominated by scarcity, Jesus tells us a story of abundance.
  • In a country dominated by asserting our ‘rights’, Jesus shows us a story of sacrifice;
  • and in relationships dominated by competition, Jesus says our fortunes are tied together, that we receive when we give and live when we let our self interests and greed die.

People who live freely, even with fears, have some similar characteristics:  The first is this: When fear starts to rise up, they remember they have defeated this fear before. They are people who have read this map before. They know what’s really behind this fear. They remember the bigger story this fear is communicating.

And secondly, they order their little fears under a bigger ‘fear’. Let me explain:

You may be scared to stand up to a bully, but the alternative is even more frightening. It may be frightening to go up against an unjust policy,  but a future without human rights is no future at all. Picking up the phone and confessing what you have done, or speaking the truth that’s been done to you may be the hardest thing you can imagine – the only thing worse is to NOT do it.

These $500 gifts force us to ask the question, What story are we going to listen to?  But you don’t need $500 to do that. You can ask the same question when you are faced with a scary situation or a vulnerable conversation. Ask yourself, Do I actually believe that story? Or is there a truer story out there?  When we gave out the money we took concrete steps to act on a truer story  – the story of abundance.

What story are you acting on today?

3 thoughts on “Fear. And what to do about it.

  1. Fear renders us feeling powerless. How can we make a right, or perfect decision? What will my inner critic housed in that dark part of our brain that whispers “how can YOU possibly do the right thing?” say. There is no perfection – there is only good enough. I teach memoir, creative writing and poetry my writers often doubt their work.” Is my work valuable?” they ask. Of course it is – you are the hero of your own life. Slam the door on that inner critic and in deciding whatever you need to do with that money is a good enough decision based on who you are right now.

  2. I have to say, first, that I do not know all of the factors behind the decision that was made concerning this money. My initial reaction is, “Way to Go!” This should be more of the norm. For far too long churches have collected money and spent the vast majority of the collections on “the ministry”. While I agree that in order to have a place of worship and have people to attend to it and the teaching that is done on behalf of that church, money is required, (1 Cor 9:14) this has to be balanced out with the other part Paul said in that same chapter. If we are not meeting the physical needs of those among us, how much are we really helping them. The critical point is where you were before you made this decision. Congratulations! You did not let fear keep you from doing this. While I am not in favor of just randomly giving money away for the sake of doing it, I believe that churches should be giving more of their offering collections away than spending it.

  3. The Lord taught me Isaiah 41:10 one fearful night when I was stranded in Haiti in a city unknown to me several years ago. I will never be that same fear-filled person again. My God is faithful and now he is calling my husband and I to serve Him as missionaries in Africa. I can list numerous things that evoke fear in me as we embark on this journey; however, my God has always been faithful and I don’t ever want to look back and say, “What if we had obeyed God? What then?!” I desire to walk in obedience to Him regardless…

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