Sep 25, 2008

the only thing we have to fear

Recently I was talking with a friend who manages a rather well-known financial investment firm. The topic of conversation was last week's crazy stock market stuff and all the attention the media has placed on it. He said something that both shocked and reassured me.

"Change nothing."

Perhaps that's advice that is specific to my situation, but he said it was the same advice he was giving everyone he knew.

In other words, be still... don't let the fear of fear create unhealthy reactions.

This is a smart guy who has served me with some sound financial counsel in recent years. Keep in mind, my wife and I only have a meager amount of money invested in fancy words like "portfolio" and "diversified" and "mutual exchange traded untraded money market bond closed open ended unit investment thingies." Nonetheless, it's good to hear from someone who knows what he's talking about how sometimes people panic and get emotional during such times... and sometimes the best advice is to not be afraid of fear.

Sometimes if you wait you'll see a gain over the long-term... even though it seems like a short-term loss.

Apparently there's already been some bounce back in the market. But you wouldn't know it from the talk shows trying to stay on the air or the political ads that use our fears to manipulate votes. One candidate cites that the high gas prices are the other person's fault... and then the other fires back, "Fraid not. You did it." And back and forth, and back and forth because they know that the average soccer mom or dad who's just paid $90 at the pump is going to watch that commercial during Dancing With Stars and freak out. More emotions... more fears... more confusion.

It drives me crazy when in order to gain a vote a politician's party doesn't realize the damage they do. Maybe that way they look like a miracle worker when they're elected and "fix" all our problems. Or at least appear to do so for the first 100 daze days.

Be still. Don't let the fear of fear create unhealthy reactions.

This applies to more than business, politics, and economics, though.

I can't tell you how many households I've connected with in the past several years who are going through something amazingly tough. This person hurt that person; that child disrespected that parent; that parent ignored that child; this marriage isn't what it used to be; and so on. Guards are raised and fingers are pointed - "Fraid not." "Fraid so."

The fear of fear often gets in the way of anything productive happening.

This doesn't have to be true, and I've seen some rather amazing people defy that in recent days. In our local church, I've watched many courageous men and woman pursue others who are going through broken times, sacrificially give to help a new building get ready for others in our region, give stretchy finances to resource what God is doing, forgive one another from the heart, and lay down their schedules in lieu of God's priorities. This group of people have decided that life isn't determined by the ticker tape of Wall Street - what matters are the everyday connections with God that ripple into home, 'hoods, work, and play.

What matters is BEING the Church.

Certainly, it's easy to instead become conservative in all of this. I'm sure many Christians feel the temptation to hold back on tithing, offering other resources, start putting their guard up, and make sure they don't risk themselves in any capacity. That's okay if you're in a season where you and God need to get right... but once that's happened, it's time to overflow.

Just today, though, someone told me they had a washing machine to give away. And yesterday another person provided some finances to purchase some much needed resources for our new meeting space. A meeting space that is filled with grocery bags of food many people brought in this past week to love their neighbors in a practical way.

Open handed living in the name of Jesus. Wow.

Be still. Don't let the fear of fear create unhealthy reactions.

I learned recently that Google was started during the melt down and made it because they made smart decisions... they seem to be doing fine. In fact, many of the largest and most successful sustainable businesses have been started during economic downturns. Perhaps during such times the "lamer" ideas are quickly shown to be lame and the "better" ideas are revealed as practical - there is less noise to deal with.

I believe that if churches could be established during the Great Depression to provide God's powerful hope to a hurting world, then they can and must also be formed during a Great Recession. Hope must always be present in times of despair… and the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Be still. Don't let the fear of fear create unhealthy reactions.

Perhaps we we can't control everything happening in our world, but we can focus on what matters and Who it all matters to. May we be irrationally committed to the One who does not change in shifting times... but instead invites us to become ourselves.

After all, if you trust somebody who died and was resurrected, you're trusting in Somebody who doesn't fear death. May we truly be "Christ-followers" in that respect... and uncover the Life that follows the crucifixion.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)


Robert said...

excellent brother!!! Can i ask what do you do when the fear of fear feels like a mountain on youe back? You have faith and want to stand in faith, but feelings are crashing down saying fear and fear of fear is crushing you? Standing still and waiting, is that the main defense or offense against feelings of fear??

Tony Myles said...

When I feel that way?

I cry. I worry. I pace.

I start praying and then run out of words.

I want to invent new curse words that only I know are curse words so I can say them out loud without getting busted.

Then someone reminds me that the story I'm in is bigger than me and that thing I'm afraid of. Sometimes it's my wife, and sometimes it's another Someone.

And sometimes I still cry, worry, and pace.

But I do it with a greater context, and suddenly my fear doesn't seem so big.

Being still and knowing that He is God... that is the only way I stay in that place.

Robert said...

tony- thanks man. I get so caught up in the idea of overcoming the fear I lose my sense of my frail humanness in how i go about doing that I too become braver,stronger and more confident when someone else encourages me just as you have done here thanks brother!!