When You’re Scared

When was the last time you were afraid of something? Fear can affect us both mentally and physically. You can feel lightheaded, you probably feel your heart racing, maybe you experience a panic attack, or realize that your stomach is suddenly upset … the body manifests a multitude of reactions to fear.

Our 100 lb. dog had surgery last week that made her very wobbly when she came out of anesthesia. We had difficulty getting her in the van and up the stairs, resulting in her losing control of her back legs and possibly pulling a muscle or a tendon. For the next few days, she was afraid of steps. We realized this halfway up an exterior staircase at my father-in-law’s cottage, where her fear caused her to slip through the opening between steps . Fortunately she is large enough that she didn’t fall through, but she froze and refused to go any higher. It was a scary moment for the four of us as we tried to get her up the rest of the staircase. My heart was racing for the next 30 minutes. Being afraid is very strongly connected with feeling out of control, and nobody likes being out of control.

Today we read about the famous and successful Old Testament prophet, Elijah. We harken back to a time when right after a major victory, Elijah suddenly felt afraid and out of control:

I Kings 19:1-8 (Common English Bible)

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, how he had killed all Baal’s prophets with the sword. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with this message: “May the gods do whatever they want to me if by this time tomorrow I haven’t made your life like the life of one of them.”

Elijah was terrified. He got up and ran for his life. He arrived at Beer-sheba in Judah and left his assistant there. He himself went farther on into the desert a day’s journey. He finally sat down under a solitary broom bush. He longed for his own death: “It’s more than enough, Lord! Take my life because I’m no better than my ancestors.” He lay down and slept under the solitary broom bush.

The contrast between the events in the previous passage, where Elijah single-handedly defeated the prophets of Baal, and this image of him cowering under a broom bush longing for death is stunning. It is a good reminder to us that even the strongest and most calm warrior can succumb to fear. The struggle is real.

Then suddenly a messenger tapped him and said to him, “Get up! Eat something!” Elijah opened his eyes and saw flatbread baked on glowing coals and a jar of water right by his head. He ate and drank, and then went back to sleep. The Lord’s messenger returned a second time and tapped him. “Get up!” the messenger said. “Eat something, because you have a difficult road ahead of you.” Elijah got up, ate and drank, and went refreshed by that food for forty days and nights until he arrived at Horeb, God’s mountain.

I love the interaction between the angel and Elijah. This angel wasn’t playin’. “Get up! Get up!” We think that someone having an “angelic voice” is a pleasant thing, but that is not what Elijah experienced. No, this angel sounded like a bullhorn in the pre-dawn hours that jolts you awake with its urgency.

“Get up!”

Is God calling you to get up and get moving? Is he trying to awaken you to an urgent situation that requires you to do something? Is the alarm clock going off and alerting you to change your behavior, your attitude, or your thoughts before it’s too late?

Wake up and eat the flatbread! You see, when God tells us to get up and get going, he always provides sustenance for the task and the journey.

So that thing that you have been avoiding, that idea that frightens the heck out of you, or that calling that has you wishing for the broom tree comes with the guarantee of God’s presence and provision.

You don’t have to be afraid.

Wake Up Call by Michelle Robertson

Wake Up Call

See if this sounds at all familiar where you are. A family member blows up at another family member, and an onslaught of phone calls to the rest of the family ensues, each presenting their side of the encounter and trying to garner support.

A frustrated teenager slams her laptop closed and storms out of the kitchen because her younger siblings are chewing too loudly.

A friend gets angry, failing to recognize that the unreasonable response of his friend is because the guy is actually having a panic attack.

Overwhelmed spouses bicker to the point of silliness over kitchen duties.

Any time God’s children encounter a great deal of stress, we have two choices. We can let the situation bring out the worst in us, or we can take a deep breath and ask God to help us to be a light in the darkness.

The difference between the two choices is focus, intention, and a deep desire to do what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 4 (New International Version)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 

11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

What if this season of great stress is an opportunity for us to discover Christ’s light in a new and more visible way? What if this time could result in many more seeing and following his light?

And what is your part in it, if not to wake up and be the light?

These are challenging thoughts for challenging days. Listen, it never hurts to take that deep breath BEFORE you react, and ask God to use you as a light in someone else’s darkness. When this season finally turns into the next, won’t you want to look back at the many ways Christ shone through you?

Let us seize this opportunity to live as children of the light and do the things that please God the most. Let us reject the fruitless deeds of darkness and turn on the high beams of God’s mercy, grace, and HOPE in this dark time. I believe that people, like moths, are always attracted to the Light.

And guess what? Today, we are one day closer to the end of this thing.

Wake Up and Be the Light. By Michelle Robertson