Bottom Line - September 2016
A letter from Stan Bower to the businessmen in the St. Louis region:
Fear is an interesting fact of life. As God has been getting to the bottom of my heart, I have discovered some fear. For example, at times when I have a conversation with someone – and as a result, have a troubling thought - anxiety grips me. Fear begins to envelope me then plunges further into the cup of emotions, where it hits anger - then descends even deeper to hurt and sadness.
Out of my long-term sadness, anger wells up and as a result, I may say or do something either defensive or flat out wrong. I might throw out a condescending statement or try to mask my feelings through humor or denial, and escape through work or TV. Others in the same situation may numb their feelings with alcohol or drugs. None of these responses is good. I experienced a situation this morning – anxiety gripped my stomach, quickly escalating to fear – shear, brutal fear. This was a defining moment since it was the first time I actually recognized this process taking hold of me. I sought out counsel and was encouraged to move toward the fear.
One of the constant themes throughout Scripture is “do not fear”. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful”. As I go through life, is my heart troubled or fearful? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I want less of the yes and more of the no.
In Exodus 4:1-4, we see Moses deal with fear as the Lord directs him to lead the Israelites out of captivity. “Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listento what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand - …”
How did Moses respond after conquering all the fears of 40 years in the desert? He ran from the snake in the presence of God because fear gripped his heart. But then Moses obeyed God … he grabbed the snake by the tail and it became a staff in his hand to be used by God.
These days, I move toward my fear and manage my emotions to avoid being defensive or acting in a way that is flat out wrong. I now recognize that tell-tale knot in my stomach, then stretch out my hand to grab the snake. Allow the Lord to help you confront your fears, too. Jesus encourages us not to have a fearful or troubled heart.
Becoming a man of peace and courage,
Stanley A. Bower