The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).
One day when my youngest son was just a toddler I was walking in the woods with him in a backpack. Up ahead, about 50 yards down the trail I suddenly saw a big momma bear and her twin cubs walk out of the trees. She turned and starred at me, then took one step in my direction. A jolt of adrenaline – FEAR – flushed through me. Our Samoyed, Ransom was beside me and he barked. I yanked on his leash, turned on a dime and ran the other direction as fast as I could. Poor Michael! He bounced and jostled on my back and of course had no idea of the real danger. In that case, fear was a good thing, a very good thing. The energy it flushed into my system gave me strength to run a 100 yards that might have given me a gold medal in the Olympics. Fear can be a good. When there’s a mamma bear in the woods, fear is God’s provision!
Our problem of course is that the emotion of fear can’t differentiate between a real threat and a false threat. Quite often our remarkable, God-given ability to imagine the future kicks in the wrong way and we imagine threats that aren’t there. We imagine a terminal disease, bankruptcy, our children’s demise, infidelity in our marriage, a pending pink slip. These scenarios may or may not be real. That makes no difference to our emotions. When we picture a threat, our fear-system pushes the alarm just as quickly as it does when the danger is real and present.
The only way to overrule our instinct to fear the future is to reboot our imagination with an alternative picture of reality, a picture given to us by God. That’s called faith. Faith is imagination. Hebrews 11 says it’s the “assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Again, faith is imagination – our inner picture of the future that aligns with God’s determined picture of the future.
All of us face fears. But here’s the question: Are the things I fear based on God’s picture of the future or mine? What has God said about tomorrow? What promises has he given? He’s promised that he’ll never leave me alone. He’s promised that he will meet all my needs. He’s promised the fight on my behalf, and win! He’s promised… As I reconfigure my imagination based on his promises, I can trump the instinct of fear. Here’s a prayer for this principle:
“God, you have made big promises to me. I don’t see all these promises coming true right now, but I decide right now to let your words and not my fears depict my picture of the future. Please help me believe and see, ahead of time, an image of my life as you intend it to be. I can’t control my fears, but I can replace them with an imagination filled with images that you create. God, superimpose faith over the fears that cripple me. Remind me now of your promises: provision, forgiveness, healing, rescue, your endless love! Thank you for a new future and a new hope. I am not a victim of fear, thanks to your great and precious promises, promises you ALWAYS keep!”