[From the Archives: I don’t really remember writing this, and it’s not all that I’d like it to be. However, I found it and hoped it might encourage someone who struggles with the same internal battles]
I usually like artists, but not this one.
This one is destructive.
This one is a liar.
His medium is illusions. He cannot create, he only copies the same old darkness that the world has known for ages.
If you don’t pay attention you’ll wake up one day to find yourself penned in by fences that only exist in your mind, believing that this sham world is as real as those concrete truths which now seem to evaporate as mist.
I might sound like I possess a touch of madness, but we’ve all met this fiend before.
His name is Fear.
We’ve allowed him a seat at the kitchen table of our minds, from whence he skillfully twists the conversations.
Suddenly our days look bleak, friends seem distant, words more cutting and the future more grim.
A life once marked with hope can soon be bowed to the frustrations of the smallest obstacle, and cower at the feet of beasts who do not actually exist. Meanwhile those things that should actually have your prayers and energies focused upon them will be forgotten.
He is an artist in many fields. Once banished, he must be defended against or his return is imminent.
I thought in many ways that I was done with him. I overcame him months ago to make the right decision, but now at the point where I must fight his illusions, I temporarily gave in to them.
I did not ask for the heavenly help I needed, but rather sat back defeated to watch as he gleefully painted in dark hues his favorite images of failure, inadequacy and loneliness.
Had I immediately called for help I would have avoided the embarrassment of the dark blots Fear cast upon my behavior. I complained, and sat glued to the reel of despair that played repeatedly before me.
But then an unlikely hero entered this story: Deuteronomy.
As Moses gave his recap of the days after the Exodus, I saw the grimy fingered artist at work in the people of God so many years ago.
They had the option of choosing to trust God and enter the promised land, and see God’s mighty hand at work in a way many of us dream to see it. Surely they would obey, because they had seen miracles with their own eyes! Surely we all would chose the right path if we had seen such things, we say.
They had seen it.
But Fear painted pictures of giants too large, and cities too strong.
They forgot the reality of the fact that though they had very real obstacles, they had the help of a very real God who told them not to be afraid.
Not to be afraid because He was with them.
Yet Fear won, and that generation died in the desert.
(That’s all Fear really has to offer anyone in the end.)
It was then I realized that Fear wanted me to believe that God’s promises were only the mirage of an oasis in the desert.
This time it is the oasis that is real, and the desert the illusion.
As long as I stay close to the source of living water, the desert can never truly kill me.
It was this simple lesson I’ve “learned” so many times before that proves Fear’s work to be no more than a mist before the God who created me for His glory, Who loves me as His child.
Yes, the Israelite’s fear might have been based in the very real residents of Canaan, unlike my fears which were almost completely in my own mind.
Yes, in life we can be thrown in truly dangerous situations, and victory might not always appear in the way we expect it. We may, in such cases, have very real foes to fight.
Yet in any case we cannot allow fear to dine with us. We cannot welcome him in.
Instead it is the LORD we should choose to abide with, and when I enlist my Creator’s help to keep fear at bay, I gain the assistance of an artist Who colors my life with warm hues of hope.