I have an amazing ability at avoidance. I suppose I'm not the best, but I'm pretty close. I can look right at something that needs to be dealt with and completely tune it out.
But I can't get much satisfaction out of my gifting, because I see that same ability in just about everybody I meet. The advertising industry in America recognizes this gifting. We're offered more solutions to problems we don't really have than we are to the problems we need to deal with.
In a culture of avoidance nothing is ever faced head-on. The goal is to just get through “today” without confrontation—hoping that if put off until tomorrow it might go away.
If we're having money troubles… there's always another banker or another credit card. If we're having trouble in our relationships… there's always some kind of trip, some kind of gift, or some other kind of distraction to smooth things over for the time being. If we're facing health challenges… there's always a slew of people ready to smother us with pity.
Let's track down fear and see where it likes to hang out in this culture of avoidance:
- Fear will plague us when we're feeling broke. But fear will leave us alone after we've been approved for a loan or another credit card. (Isn't it interesting that we get all anxious before the loan is approved and not after.)
- Fear will plague us when we know there's something we need to make right with another person. But fear will leave us alone when we figure out a way to put it off until another day.
- Fear will plague us when we hear the doctor's report. But we aren't afraid of approaching people and sharing our bad news.
Not only will fear terrorize you with threats that are not true:
- By convincing you to believe something that God didn't say
- By convincing you that what God did say isn't true
Fear will also keep you away from places you need to go.
Fear will keep you from taking a hard look at the way you handle money. Fear will cause you to avoid dealing with the broken issues in your relationships. Fear will cause you to give in to a medical prognosis without a fight.
Fear is like a junkyard dog, reminding you that it's safer somewhere else. It's as if the devil takes everything in your life that you need to deal with and puts it in a junkyard, and keeps you away with all the growling and barking.
I owned and operated a corporation that manufactured furniture for over twenty years. A lot of money went through that place over those years—profiting employees, suppliers, customers, and my family. But furniture manufacturing moved overseas and markets changed. And I had to shut it down. I didn't try to hide from anybody. I liquidated every corporate asset and every personal asset. I tried to do the right thing. My banker even called me an “honorable man.” But people got hurt. And I certainly didn't feel honorable.
Even though I tried to face this failure head-on, a lot of my junk was still transferred to the junkyard—stuff to deal with that I didn't know about. But that junkyard dog reminded me almost every day that I just needed to stay away—to avoid it all and just go somewhere else.
It's taken me a long time to work through that failure. I had a lot of people and issues in the junkyard that needed to be faced. There are probably a few things I still need to face because that dog still barks from time to time. But God has taken me by the hand, past the barking dog (fear only barks, you know), and has helped me face what I needed to face.
The stuff in the junkyard is still affecting you even if the dog is successfully keeping you away. This kind of fear doesn't keep you away from danger. It keeps you away from facing what is endangering you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
The kind of searching in this verse is welcome—invited. Permit me to go highbrow here for a moment. I am a pianist. If I was trying to master Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2, and Sergei Rachmaninov himself offered to examine my technique (there are several problems with my illustration, the biggest is that he died in 1943), would I dread his offer. Any pianist in his or her right mind would welcome the master searching out (thoroughly examining) his or her technique and interpretation of the master's work. I am asking God to search me, not with any dread but because I want Him to.
For me to ask God to know my heart is to ask Him to intimately know what's on the inside of me—the most important part of who I am. This is a place of complete transparency. To get on your face before Him — telling Him everything—is to put yourself in this position.
When I ask God to try me, I am asking Him to put me to the test—as if He's determining my tensile strength. I want to know what my weak points are so they can be strengthened. I don't want any weakness in my life. I want to confront weakness. I want to be uniformly strong.
The thoughts in this passage refer to an anxiousness of sorts. When I ask Him to know my thoughts, I am giving Him permission to take me to the junkyard so I can face what I have avoided. These are the thoughts I had clear on the other side of town— every time I heard the junkyard dog bark. When confronted they lose that sort of silent power they had over me.
To see if there be any wicked way in me is to ask Him to inspect, observe, or give attention to the path that I'm on. Is there any mode of action or direction in me that has pain or sorrow attached to it? I want to know; I don't just want to stumble along until I run into something.
To ask Him to lead me in the way everlasting, is to ask Him to guide me down the path that has no end. I want off of any path that's a dead-end.
The devil uses fear in many different ways to cause you to avoid facing what you need to confront. But you will experience a freedom you did not think possible when you confront each and every threat to your well-being. Don't let that barking dog intimidate you. Grab the Lord's hand, open the gate, and take a close look at all the junk. The presence of the Lord will indeed enable you to say, “Was that what hurt me? Seems like nothing….”
Have a good day,