Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocking on the Fear

Photo - Anonymous
I got this picture the other day in my email inbox.  It instructed me to look at the far right side of the photo, notice the people there near the guard rail, looking at the pickup truck.  It went on and pointed out that the truck was traveling in the opposite direction from where it stopped, at 70 mph, when it lost control and crashed through the guard rail, jumped the culvert and landed on the ledge facing in the opposite direction.  Finally, for this picture, it pointed out that the two passengers in the pickup truck were NOT injured.  That would generate some fear in my life, I would think. But, if you know me at all, or you have read anything I have ever written, you already know that God is the reason that they survived.  Pretty awesome God.

When I started karate, I had never spent more than a few moments feeling fear.  Sure, there were things in my life I did not look forward to, like punishment and the like from my childhood years, but fear was never really a part of it.  More like duty or acceptance.  This is going to suck, but then there is tomorrow, and everything will be all right.  I have often looked back at my childhood and young adulthood, the parts that I can remember, (I don't remember much - I have TBI, which has robbed my of most of my long term memory and much of my short term memory - for more about this, click Here.) and I have determined that I always felt safe and loved. Safe because either I absolutely trusted my family to keep me safe, no matter what, or later on, because I rested on my own power and knew that I was safe because I had always made it so.  There had never been a problem I could not turn into a positive, generally without thought or plan.  Kinda like Midas' magic fingers. I could make me and anyone around me feel alright. So, having personal experience with being able to convert apocalypse into sunny beaches, I swallowed a Big Lie that I have still not been able to shake, even unto today. The lie that I learned within the first few hours of resuming my martial arts training after my injury was, "FEAR is not real.  It stand for False Evidence Appearing Real."

Photo - Used by Permission
Sure, being able to reduce FEAR into the abstract allows you to let it go, so the acronym actually works.  Don't confuse "actually works" with actually happens however.  Doing so is the equivalent of believing that the sun is actually drawn by a chariot from the East to the West every day by Apollo.  Assuming Apollo is riding the chariot around the world every day does explain why the sun rises and sets rather well, it is just not true.  A working model, so to speak, but nothing more.  I still think about this acronym when fear is washing over me.  It is my first thought.  It is my life line to sanity.  It is one of my largest problems in my faith now, and it has become a god to me.  For example, when my insurance company decided that they would no longer honor their side of my disability insurance, and sued my family for some huge amount of money, I was thrown into fear that nearly took my life.  Despair mixed with power from somewhere else creates a feeling of hopelessness faster than you can imagine.  There was nothing I could do, since THEY were subjecting me to pressure that required money, and lots of it, to defend against.  Most people think that justice is guaranteed within the USA, as I did, but that simply is not true.  Justice is a commodity that must be purchased, and the insurance company was made of money.  I have never found out what their real motive was.  I have been told by many attorneys that it was only about money, meaning they knew they could get mine, but I have a hard time accepting the role of the victim, so I still don't know. Anyway, I stood to lose my house, I had already lost my car, and my wife and daughter stood to lose their business. I was afraid. Turn your stomach into a fire, weaken your knees and make you sick all the time type of fear.

I had begun to rationalize the fear into one of my steady state conditions, paranoia, by waking up each day, telling myself that it was False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, I was paranoid, because this could not really happen, and I was really safe.  I just thought I was at risk. I knew that I had not done anything wrong and they, meaning the insurance company, knew that. At some point, this situation really had to go away.  Yet, for years and years, it only got worse.  I lost contact with my wife, daughter, karate, faith and myself.  I was physically there, I just was not present.  I watched movies and ate.  I hated myself and contemplated, even planned a few times, how to end my own life.  I talked to my pastors, who only told me to hold on and it would work out.  In other words, they told me that it was False Evidence Appearing Real too.  Just hang on.  

Then my mental health councilor told me that it was NOT paranoia, but rather I was afraid of a real risk.  Real evidence appearing real.  Victory. I was right all along. They really were coming to get me.

Not really.  My heart sank even further.  I had nothing left to hang onto.  They were really coming to get me and there really was nothing for me to do. Hope had been banished from the building.

Yet, though I did in fact lose both my income and my car forever, I did not lose everything.  I had forgotten one very important thing.  I forgot that I was NOT alone.  God was with me.  Zechariah 4:6 (NIV) "So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty."

The evidence was real enough. They were after me.  What I had forgotten was that is was not by my own power through which salvation came.  I could not defense myself, for the first time I could remember in my life.  I was literally standing in the storm, and the water was coming toward my mouth.  My only choice was stand and wait for the end to come, which was not far off, or end the pain and duck under the waves.  I not only considered ducking under the waves, I actually planed it.  I might have actually tried to duck under the waves, but that is a different story.  In the end, my wife, daughter and fellow martial artists propped me up long enough for me to see the life boat coming. When the insurance company finally dropped the suit, I was thinking about God, "took you long enough to rescue me."  What I missed was that I WAS rescued.  God is outside of time.  He already knew he was beside me. He already knew how he was going to pull me out.  I just did not trust him to do it.  I needed it to be on my time, my schedule my way.  I even tried to do it myself, by saying over and over to myself, "False Evidence Appearing Real," hoping I could save myself by just accepting that I had made choices that I could now change.  I was so busy trying to save myself or lamenting my "fate," I forgot to invite my God into my problem.  He already knew what the problem was, and compared the stuff he has to deal, it was puny.  I forgot that FEAR was the problem, and I needed to tell my FEAR that my God was bigger than it.

God is the solution, for sure.  I know that now. Why is it, then, that I am at this very moment terrified of what might happen tomorrow?  I would like to say that it is my brain injury, but that would be telling my FEAR that it is false.  It is not false.  The world is a horrible and broken place, and there are few you can lean on and rely on.  I am blessed to be able to rely on my wife and daughter, though I forget that more than I remember it.  However, what I did not remember or know until this very day, this very moment, was that God already has already solved it.  I just am not paying attention.  I FEAR what may happen so much, I forget to worship at the feet of Jesus, and instead worship at the feet of the monetary system that rules our world.  I keep letting my solutions run through my mind. I could feel the boat bumping up against me while I stood within the storm, but all I felt was annoyance.  I actually, metaphorically speaking, looked at the boat as an unwelcome distraction, batting it away in my mind.

So today I bring the solution to YOU and to my life.  Instead of bringing my list of woe and pain to the Lord, as a menu of things I need from him, I will instead bring my God to my problems. I am not telling you to stop communicating to God about your problems.  Far from it.  He already knows for sure, but any solid relationship involves honest and direct communication.  We are supposed to lay our problems at his feet.  So lay them out.  Yet, the power is in the faith, not in the action of telling him the problems.  God IS on the job. Bring him into your loop.  Bring him INTO the problem.

How, you may ask?  

Open the freaking door.  Sometimes, in order to understand how God works his spiritual will in our physical world, actually physical actions help us see it happen. Physically, with your left or right hand, reach up and act out opening a door.  Sure, it is going to look strange. People might see you pantomiming, and you without your white face paint, you are going to look strange, but do it anyway.  Open the door, and look in.  If your fear is anything like mine, you can see, feel, smell, taste and maybe hear it.  There it is. The bible, the very word of God, promises us that if you open the door, God will walk in.  As you are looking in, you should smile at your fear, because your God is already there.  I actually said, "I'm sorry, but you have already lost.  FEAR, this is my God", and turned my back and walked away. 

Revelation 3:20 - "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

When Jesus said this, we has talking about Spiritual Power and Spiritual Salvation. Remember the verse Zechariah 4:6 above, where the Lord told Zerubbabel that the oil would burn endlessly because of God's Spiritual Power? God acted in the physical world with Spiritual Power. We tend to make our God too small, and say, because science tends to deny spiritual power, that God's actions are only in the spiritual part of our existence. We do that, in spite of knowing that Paul and Peter brought people back to life, gave them back their ability to walk and see. We do that because our faith is far smaller than a mustard seed, and we are worshiping our FEAR. Stop it.  Open the door.  Physically open the door, and introduce your FEAR to your GOD. Then, by faith, turn you back and walk away, because the boat is already there to rescue you and your FEAR prevented you from see it.

Back to the email I got that I mentioned at the beginning.  You probably would now see that I am pushing the point that God can do anything.  That God turned the whole thing around for those two in the truck.  But, when I saw this picture, I too saw that, as the email directed me to see.

I was wrong.  My GOD was far too small.  I cropped GOD right out of the picture, so to speak. look now at the real picture, and see how big your GOD really is.

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