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Thursday, May 29, 2014

05. Walking and Talking with God, Part 4: Fearlessness

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fifth examining the phrase "obeyeth my voice".

Anciently, prophets of old would climb -- or be carried away by the Spirit to -- a tall mountain.  At the top, they would meet a heavenly being (often God) face-to-face, and speak with Him as one man speaks with another (Exodus 33:11).  Afterwards, they would descend, usually to circumstances that grossly contradicted the divine experiences they had just enjoyed at the top of the mountain.

So it is with you.

Christ constantly beckons you to ascend to the top of your beliefs, which is a belief in Him.  Yet once you do so, the instant you trust Christ, when you surrender a part of yourself (or maybe all of yourself) to Him, two simultaneous processes are put into motion:

First, you win.  Decisively.

Second, Satan escalates his game to pull you down from the top of the mountain.  It's a customized, personalized, well thought-out strategy which is:

  1. More subtle than you suppose (Alma 12:4),
  2. Based on millennia of experience and a knowledge of you which likely surpasses even your own knowledge of yourself, and 
  3. Implemented by some of Satan's most capable, results-oriented captains and generals who won't go down without a fight.

Thus, a new (or renewed) battle for your soul takes place.

Only, it needn't happen.

You can stay on the victor's podium.  You can disregard Satan's lies that say you don't deserve to stay there, and in so doing, you can render his tugs at you unproductive and useless, frustrating and futile.

Spiritual Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis
(RCA) is a method of problem solving that tries to identify the root causes of faults or problems. Instead of simply addressing the symptoms of a problem, RCA attempts to (1) identify the core cause of a problem, (2) correct it and (3) prevent recurrence of the problem.  Today, RCA is used to reduce the incidence of pain in medical patients or to determine why seeds don't germinate.  It was also used as part of the investigation into the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

So it is with spirituality.  When you experience a decrease in your spirituality, it may be helpful to employ a little RCA to determine the root cause of the fault or problem.  Luckily, we have some good insights on one such common fault or problem: fear.
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
The equation is clear: You can't be fearful and be on the Lord's side.  When you cease trusting in God, you disconnect yourself from His protective influence (which includes power, love and having a sound mind).

Without that love, you engender the spirit of fear (1 John 4:18; see below) -- for example, the fear of failure.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of letting go of control.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of discomfort.  Fear of missing out.  Fear that you’re not OK as you are or your life isn't OK as it is.  Fear that some ideal won’t come true.

This fear endows, empowers and enlivens the parasite of evil power.  Thus, it becomes apparent that fear is not the opposite of faith.  Instead, it is a form of faith -- just in the wrong power source.

In the midst of this "spiritual dissonance", the symptoms of fear can manifest in a number of recognizable ways: for example, impatience, insecurity, boastfulness and a lack of brotherly kindness.

Naturally, under those conditions, you begin to feel like you're losing control.  The more you seem to be losing control, the more you step up to take control.  Thus, a new, renewable energy source is created: pride.  From there, a multitude of destructive directions can be simultaneously pursued.

The Secret About Fear That Satan Doesn't Want You To Know

Saul feared that the people believed David was a better warrior than he.  He feared his position was threatened, and that David would be the next king.  To cope with his fears, Saul was full of pride, making increasing overtures to garner the affection and respect of the people while relying on his own skills and strengths in seeking to take David's life.

David’s response was the opposite: He didn't rely on himself or others.  He simply trusted in the Lord:
"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)
"The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6)
It was as if David's spirit was quoting this to him:
"Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come." (D&C 68:5-6)
Thus, as you trust the Lord, you actively demonstrate your love for Him.  Fear, and all its attendant symptoms, evaporate under the protective love of God.

A friend recently said,
"Fear & faith aren't opposites in the way we usually think.  It's not faith that casts fear from our hearts, but love.  A knowledge, first-hand and personal, of the love of God, is what casts out fear and gifts us faith in the Giver of that Good Gift."
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18) 
"perfect love casteth out all fear" (Moroni 8:16)

An Invitation

Within minutes of saying "I will not cease to call upon God," Moses began to fear.  Here's how he overcame his fear:
"And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory." (Moses 1:20)
What I've found helpful: Whenever I feel myself becoming fearful, I calm down and empty my mind (see "kintsukuroi" or any post here regarding meditation).  Then I turn my thoughts to Christ.  I picture Him in my mind.  I remember His promises to me.  Then, I put Him to the test by inviting Him to assuage my fears.  I ask Him for a reminder of His love (see here for another example).

Receive the Lord, and the promise of His hope, and you'll win the battle.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Then (in the spirit of RCA point #3, above), you'll be far more capable in helping to create an environment which will repel fear and maintain the sweet, subtle influence of the Spirit...

...which is the topic of my next post in this series.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.


No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

1 comment:

  1. Fear is definitely a way that Lucifer and his minions get us worrying and nervous. I have always appreciated Enzio Busche's experience when he had to cast out an evil spirit -- everyone was fearful, including the mission president, and Elder Busche knew he could not be fearful. He prayed for love, and he was blessed with an immense love for that elder possessed, and Busche said he almost felt humor with the situation at that point.

    Thanks for posting these ideas of what to do when fear comes -- as even Moses was weak and had to call on the Lord.