PUSH TO RESTART (6)
The Fear Factor
IMDB.com provides this synopsis of the television program, Fear Factor:
“Fear Factor is the ultimate adrenaline rush, a true test of stamina and guile for those willing to put their body and soul on the line for cold hard cash. It's not a show for the faint-hearted; participants must confront their most primal fears, try to remain calm and tap into their inner strength to perform some of the most daring and stomach-churning challenges ever. Three men and three women compete against each other in four stunts designed to test them both physically and mentally to their absolute limits.”
Who can forget scenes where contestants ate bees or bugs, were locked in a transparent coffin with live snakes (or passed snakes to each other using just their mouths)?
I am fairly confident in saying I can avoid situations like those set up by the show’s creators, but dealing with the more pervasive fears, like destructive people, difficult problems or devastating possibilities seems more challenging than being “trapped in a car being flown under two helicopters.”
What I am learning from the Holy Spirit is to FEAR GOD ALONE.
We each have a place in our heart and mind where we decide who and what we are going to fear or not fear. If we decide we “will not fear what man shall do to” us (Hebrews 13:6) or say about us (Matthew 10:24-26) because we choose to fear only God, our pre-occupation with anxieties will lose its power over us. If we let what others think about us prevail in our self-evaluation, we are, in effect, rejecting God’s rightful claim of ownership and replacing it with the whimsical and shifting evaluations of fallen human beings.
When we face intimidating obstacles, we can choose not to be dismayed by them. Joshua faced the fear factor in surveying the indomitable defenses of Jericho, which is why God told him to choose to “be strong and courageous” and “do not be afraid.” (Joshua 1:9)
If we decide we will “not fear any of those things (we) are about to suffer” (Revelation 2:10), outcomes are left in the hands of the Sovereign God and our anxieties over the unknown will dissipate or even disappear.
We really do get to decide what we will fear and what we will not fear; it is a capability God has given us which accompanies our free will. Maybe that is why He continually repeats phrases like “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” “do not fear,” and “do not be dismayed” throughout the Scriptures; He is appealing to the decision-making part of our mind to choose to fear Him rather than exercising our minds and imaginations with things beyond our control.
Fearing people, problems or possibilities is more about control than it is about actual threats; we work up scenarios in our minds and try to manipulate the outcomes in our thoughts so we do not have to be so afraid of them, all the while allowing fear to dominate us.
The “key” to overcoming a fearful nature is making the conscious decision, every day, in every setting, with the introduction of each fearful thought, that we will fear God alone.
We will trust Him completely and supremely over our own understanding and logic (Proverbs 3:5-6). We will find our peace in Him rather than waiting for our situation to settle down to our comfort level or hoping everyone who is disturbed around us will calm down to a place where we can have a healthy relationship with them.
Pastor, whom do you fear? What problem is so large it preoccupies your mind with a sense of dread? What possibility paralyzes you or causes you to panic? Write them all down and then, one by one, CHOOSE not to fear them or it. Remind yourself, when fear begins to rise within you, that you chose to FEAR GOD ALONE.
The winning contestant on Fear Factor took home a cash prize; win this battle for your mind and your reward will be “the peace of God which passes all understanding!” (Philippians 4:7)